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Back to School: Managing medications at school

It's back to school time and if you are a parent that means you need to be prepared.  Now is the time to contact the school if your child will need to take any medications during the day or if your child has any serious allergies.

The School Nurse has to develop a plan for how medications are going to be administered to children during the day.  There are now so many children with asthma, ADHD, diabetes, and anaphylactic reactions that they may not be the ones actually giving out the drugs and the more time they have to prepare that plan, the safer the children in the school will be.  School Nurses or administrators may need to be involved in the planning of lunch tables so those children with severe allergies can be separated from the general population to avoid inadvertent exposure and early warning is critical to a successful plan.  The first day of school is just too chaotic to allow good planning to occur and increases the risk of accidents occurring.

Parents should start by reading the school’s policy on the administration of drugs during the school day.  At most schools you need to provide the medication in an original container from the pharmacy with clear instructions for use or have a doctor’s note for administration of over the counter medications. This means that you might have to go back to your pharmacist and ask her or him to give you an extra empty bottle that is labeled like the original so you can fill the bottle with medication for the first day or when getting a refill, have some put in one bottle and another put into another bottle for school.  For something like an inhaler or insulin, you will need to get an extra one and you will need to get a prescription stating that you now need two so that the pharmacist can help you get it through the insurance company.  Starting early is a must.  The final things they need to do is to educate their children.  Children should be shown the medication so they know what it looks like.  If someone tries to give them an inhaler or pill they do not recognize, they should not take it.  There are so many kids taking medications and sometimes a staff member in the front office is giving out medications and mistakes can happen.  So show them and then make a game out of it and quiz them 4 times over a couple days so they really know what they are supposed to take and when.

Dr Michael White from the UConn School of Pharmacy