School Nurses Fight to Block Unlicensed Injections

Alexandra Wilson Pecci, June 11, 2013

A California ruling that would allow non-licensed adults to administer insulin in schools cheapens and devalues not only the practice of nursing, but also the clout of its own licensing authorities.

My daughter has a spinal cord defect and because of that, the law says the school district must provide her with physical therapy. But what if she got to school at the beginning of September and I found out that rather than getting PT from a licensed physical therapist, she'd receive it from the school secretary instead?

It's a ridiculous scenario, and one that wouldn't ever happen, right? But in California, there's something similar afoot, something that threatens to devalue nursing and that the American Nursing Association is fighting hard to prevent.

Here's the issue: The California Department of Education wants to allow unlicensed personnel to give insulin [PDF] to children in schools. Two lower courts have already ruled that this violates the state's Nursing Practice Act, which says that administering medication is a nursing function that cannot be performed by unlicensed individuals.  

The American Diabetes Association, however, and others have appealed to the California Supreme Court, arguing that the law puts students' safety at risk because not all schools have nurses. Oral arguments began on May 29.  

Alexandra Wilson Pecci

Alexandra Wilson Pecci is an editor for HealthLeaders Media.

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