The California Supreme Court ruled Aug. 12 that insulin now may be administered to diabetic students by school staff members who don’t have a health care license.
“This ruling lowers the level of medical care for students with diabetes and puts them at risk for medication errors that could be life threatening,” CHS Nurse Susan Pierszalowski says.
Previously, the law stated that only a licensed nurse was able to administer insulin, a drug usually given through a syringe pump or pen, which stabilizes a diabetic’s blood sugar. Currently, Carmel Unified School District has two credentialed nurses and one licensed vocational nurse able to give insulin.
Insulin can be a fatal drug if it is not given properly. According to Pierszalowski, the diabetics at CHS who need insulin throughout the day know how to administer it independently, so this ruling will generally apply to most elementary and some middle school students.
Junior Ellie Wilcox, who has Type 1 diabetes, can administer her own insulin through an insulin pen.
“I used to have to go to the nurse everyday at lunch,” Wilcox says, “but now it is more convenient to just use my pen when I need it.”
Some, like Wilcox and Pierszalowski, think that non-health professionals administering insulin is a dangerous idea.
“Other staff members are not as focused on the health of the students as we health professionals are,” Pierzalowski says, “and we also have to watch over the students after they leave to make sure everything goes well because insulin is a very important drug.”
Because the ruling states that school staff members can only administer insulin to a student after being trained and having consent of the student’s physician and parent, people like senior Taylor Ingle, a Type 1 diabetic, don’t see the problem with this ruling.
“As long as the staff member knows what they are doing, then I don’t see the problem,” Ingle says. “I would be totally comfortable with them administering it to me.”
According to Pierszalowski, no CHS staff members have yet been trained to give insulin, but soon will be trained on a volunteer basis. Some teachers are willing to volunteer for this task, including health teacher Jeff Wright.
“I actually have been trained to administer insulin so I definitely would volunteer,” Wright says. “I also don’t think it is a very big deal at all that staff can give insulin. It’s all about knowing how to do it.”
There will be a meeting held soon for the Nurses Association to discuss how this ruling will play out at CHS.