Diabetic students won’t be able to get help with insulin at most California schools, because a state judge has ruled that only a nurse can administer insulin shots. Most California schools don’t have a school nurse. Since the ruling late last year, parents of an estimated 15,000 diabetic children are “pushing school districts to hire nurses, driving to schools to administer the insulin shots and in some cases choosing home schooling,” reports the San Jose Mercury News.
Many doctors and diabetes advocates are outraged. Scores of lay people — babysitters, siblings, grandparents — regularly administer insulin, and they see no reason why trained, nonmedical school staff, like teachers or clerks, should not be allowed to help students. They fear the massive shortage of school nurses means children are not getting insulin shots in a timely manner. And they say diabetes is being used as a political tool to force school districts to hire more nurses — an unlikely scenario given the state’s $42 billion budget deficit.
“It’s untenable to expect nurses to be the sole provider of insulin in schools,” said Dr. Darrell Wilson, a pediatric endocrinologist at Stanford University and the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital. “To say that only a nurse can do this is spectacularly unnecessary. This is not a complicated procedure.”
Nursing associations sued to make registered nurses the only source of insulin.
Of course, most children with diabetes handle their own blood sugar testing and insulin from a young age. It’s safer if they learn to take responsibility. But there are young children new to juvenile diabetes who could use help from an aide or teacher or volunteer. If they have to wait for a nurse to drive over from another school or for a parent to drive to school . . .