School nurses get insulin monopoly

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 . . .

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  1. Increasingly it seems we are losing the freedom to live with common sense–we are being organized into a vast slave empire.

    I hate to make such grand and pessimistic statements, but good grief.

    I am very familiar with insulin shots–both relative simplicity of administering them and the troubles with not administering them. To say this is spectacularly unnecessary is understatement.

  2. Dick Eagleson says:

    The latest in a long line of left-wing projects “for the children” that wind up injuring them as the real agenda – more featherbed “jobs” and fatter paychecks for organized rent-seeking adults – is ruthlessly pursued. The California education establishment has long had a constitutionally mandated guarantee of half the state budget. It’s hardly surprising that other greedy guilds do whatever they can to cut themselves a slice of that pie. This kind of nonsense, endlessly repeated, is why the state of California has a budget deficit north of 40 billion dollars and is, by any rational standard, bankrupt.

  3. Actually, Mr. Eagleson, the main reason California is in the tank is because of Howard Jarvis and the other idiots who pushed Prop. 13.

  4. Mike –

    Prop. 13 has nothing to do with the inability of the legislature to push spending back down to the level it was at 5 years ago. This is about leftists in Sacramento who are addicted to spending as a way to stay in power, pure and simple.

    P.S., I’m a life-long Californian who’s seen the government of this state rot over the last 15 years.

  5. As a teacher and lifelong Californian, I agree with Quincy.

  6. Mike said, “Actually, Mr. Eagleson, the main reason California is in the tank is because of Howard Jarvis and the other idiots who pushed Prop. 13.”

    What we need are tens of millions of individuals like Howard Jarvis and a Prop 13 in every state. Heck, what we need is a Prop 13 in every city and town in this country. But, then we would need lots of activist judges to overturn the will of the people. Isn’t that the way it works nowadays, Mike?

  7. I am not defending the judge’s decision, but if we do not let kids bring non prescription drugs to school and we do not allow them to medicate themselves with over the counter drugs why would anyone expect them to allow self administered insulin?

    Is this all fallout from the war on drugs?

  8. gbl3rd –

    It’s a combination of the War on Drugs and school administrators’ zero-tolerance response to being lawyered to death.

    The one interesting thing is I can’t tell whether students are allowed to self-administer under this ruling. Anyone know the answer?

  9. John Cunningham says:

    once again, the stupidity of the law exemplified, in California of course…. the ever-toxic mix of unions and lawyers once again screws the public

    this is another step in the infantilization of the public. I hope at some point enought of us rise up and overthrow this dictatorship.

  10. Why should ANY school these days not have a school nurse? You guys ever hear of injuries, or other medications that need to be given to students?

    Diabetes isn’t the only medical issue facing schoolchildren and schools these days.

  11. I’m glad we have a school nurse because I want no part of administering any drug or performing any medical procedure for any child. I am not trained and that is not my job. If I wanted to do that sort of thing, I’d be an RN.

  12. I presume children are not permitted to self-administer because the school has an “in loco parentis” status and if the child did it wrong (though I doubt any child who has had to self-administer insulin for any length of time WOULD) or if some mishap occurred, the school might be open to lawsuits.

    Though it might just be more idiotic fallout from Zero Tolerance (don’t asthmatic kids still have to go down to the office to get their inhalers when they are having an attack?)

    The absence of school nurses has been an issue for years. In the early 80s in the Ohio district I was in, there was one nurse for the four schools in the district. If you got hurt or sick when it wasn’t her day for your school…well, you hoped one of your parents was reachable by phone. I remember a situation where we were having class outside on some old, splintery bleachers and I slid along the bleacher to help a friend with her math problem and got my backside full of splinters. It wasn’t the school nurse’s day. Fortunately my mom was home and they let her come in and remove them and apply the antiseptic. Otherwise, I’m not sure what I would have done…probably gone the rest of the day unable to sit down.

  13. Why should ANY school these days not have a school nurse?

    Um, I am going out on a limb here, but… expense?

  14. Bearing,

    We have PLENTY of money to bail out corporations, I’m sure it would cost a lot less to put school nurses in every school.

    As an added bonus, the school nurse won’t be going off to lavish taxpayer funded weekend getaways.

  15. “We have PLENTY of money to bail out corporations…”

    Actually, no we don’t. The fact that we’re foolishly throwing good money after bad by going ever-further into debt in one area doesn’t somehow make it a good idea to do it elsewhere as well.

  16. Mike in Texas said, “We have PLENTY of money to bail out corporations, I’m sure it would cost a lot less to put school nurses in every school.”

    Actually, we don’t have plenty of money to bail out corporations. The government is PRINTING the money to bail out corporations. Printing that money will have long-term consequences that will hurt you, me, and schools. In the meantime, the Democrats are using that newly-PRINTED money aa well as our tax money to pass a porkulus bill that will do nothing to improve the economy and will only reward their friends and constituent groups while, at the same time, doubling (or more) the deficit, which will eventually hurt you, me, and the schools. Mike, why not ask our benevolent dictators in Congress and our robed masters on the bench to give the schools some of that TARP money and porkulus money for school nurses and see how many nurses the schools get? Want to bet that number is zero?

    I am not going to defend corporations and their executives. But, check the news today and see who is jetting off on taxpayer funded weekend getaways. Charlie Rangel and his friends, courtesy of a corporation that received bailout money. Check the news some more and see what the ruling class just gave each Congressman to spend–$93,000 extra in discretionary funds for their office. And, check your own school district and ask yourself these questions: Does it still have any sports teams? Which is more important, coaches or a school nurse? Helmets or a school nurse? Volleyball nets or a school nurse? Buses to away games or a school nurse?

  17. Yes, with the budget mess in California, with State Legislaturers spending and spending and the voters rarely saying no to a state-level bond issue, of course every California public school should have a registered nurse ! After all, isn’t California Utopia ?

    Snideness aside, just where will these nurses come from. California, like most states, has a severe nursing shortage. California even has some deal worked out with Universidad Autonomia de Guadalajara ( yes, in Mexico ), to train nurses for jobs in California. Training nurses, engineers, physicians and other highly skilled jobs has been too long neglected in California, like so much of the rest of our infrastructure. (Yes, I’d include highly trained professionals as being infrastructure).

    As a classroom teacher and diabetic (no insulin required, so far), I know that it is of vital importance for an insulin-dependant person to be monitoring their blood sugar (glucose levels) and do the things necessary to moderate their GL. Injecting insulin is one of those things. IMO, they have to learn to do it, a nurse will not be available most of the time for them.

    So, while the court had decided nurses must inject insulin, has the court also decided that unsed test strips and metal skin prickers are toxic/hazzardous waste materials and must be immediately delt with by a Haz-mat Squad ?

  18. I wonder if this judge smokes crack in his chambers…It’s no wonder parents are going to home schooling options when the idiots run the asylums known as public schools (a vast wasteland)…

  19. Schools without nurses should be forced to subsidize insulin pumps for eligible students. Actually, the judge should be forced to subsidize insulin pumps.

  20. “why would anyone expect them to allow self administered insulin?”

    Because there are serious consequences if they don’t get the insulin?

    “I am not trained and that is not my job”

    Ah, a union employee!

  21. What a joke. I was diagnosed at age 7 and went to CA public schools in the Bay Area. The policies in place up to the time that I graduated high school in 1999 were ridiculous, but this is utterly obscene. Injections are not rocket science; most diabetic kids are self-injecting within a year of diagnosis and most cases are diagnosed at less than 14 years of age. What logic says that a willing adult cannot learn and perform a skill that most diabetic CHILDREN can? Thanks judge, for creating an environment that will never encourage self-management and will never teach diabetic children that their condition is manageable in the real world. Sheesh.

  22. I’m pretty sure that denying children their insulin, especially those too young to administer it themselves, is against the ADA and most 504 plans and any other caveat we follow in public education.

    I’m not sure some of the commenters understand that this is not like taking Ritalin. Type 1 Diabetics must have insulin or they will die. Impeding their public education by not providing them a way to have that insulin should be against their civil rights if not their educational rights.

    It’s very sad that our society has become so sue-a-noid that we can’t help a child administer a subdermal injection.

    I, for one, being diabetic myself, would go out on a limb and help the child administer the dose. However, I have injected insulin, and I have been educated by Certified Diabetes Educators.

    I’m appalled by this information.

    May I add that you can fly with your insulin syringes and needles and lancet devices….why the ignorance in public education?

  23. Lightly Seasoned says:

    Actually, rightwingprof, I am not a member of any union. I do many things that are not in my job description, but that one crosses the line.

    Do you want me performing medical procedures on you?

  24. Margo/Mom says:

    As I understand it, the judge was merely interpreting existing law. The current practice (of allowing trained non-nurses to administer insulin) was a settlement deriving from the situation of diabetic students being covered by ADA/IDEA and the state being required to provide them access to an education and not allow the need for insulin injection to stand as a barrier. It would appear that this latest ruling puts the responsibility on districts to hire nurses in order to comply with federal law–unless the legislature takes action.

  25. A similar attempt was made in Texas by the Republican-controlled Legislature. Diabetic students would be monitored by “volunteers” who received special training.

    As I’ve stated before, there’s more to a school nurse than administering insulin shots. And yes, as someone pointed out, school districts could drop their athletic programs and be able to afford nurse for every school, but as I understand it parents haven’t raised a stink about the lack of libraries and librarians in many CA schools, so what are the odds they would select school nurses over football and basketball teams?

  26. John Drake says:

    Wow. The end of this comment thread reeks of left-wing BS.

  27. Funny how the truth reeks, but feel free to check it out for yourself.

    In the meantime, the BS here is coming from the crowd that knows nothing about what goes on in a school and PRETENDS to care about children.

    Perhaps you could grow a pair and post some actual facts, John Drake.

  28. Dick Eagleson says:

    Mike in Texas,

    This whole thread is repelete with facts. That none of them are congenial to your case – which is a bit hard to pin down, by the way, but which seems to include the propositions that anything done by wastrel Democrats is automatically good for education while anything done by evil right-wingers is automatically bad – is unfortunate for you, but, as the saying goes, reality tends to have a conservative bias.

    Not being from California, perhaps your grasp of public policy out here is as defective as it obviously is because your “knowledge” of the subject consists entirely of tales gleaned from left-wing websites and similar compendia of fact-free liberal conventional wisdom. Just as a point of fact, Prop. 13 is not some recent calamity to befall the apparent liberal project of confiscating every last scrap of private income and wealth in California – it was passed in 1978. The state legislature, which has been controlled by Democrats in every one of the intervening 31 years, has never adjusted its spendthrift proclivities to match the limits wisely imposed by vote of the people. Ergo, we have had deficits and perennial “budget crises” in the no-longer-so-Golden State every year since, just as we also did in the years preceding Prop. 13. This year is particularly bad as the numbers are almost laughably outsize, but this year is by no means an aberration. I don’t see where allowing the incurable wastrels in our state legislature an additional 31 years to get with the program is likely to produce results any more rational than those to which we have, sadly, long since become accustomed.

    In any event, I should acquaint you with another of those famous numbered California ballot propositions that has some direct relevance to the subject under discussion – Prop. 98 requires that K – 12 public education is always to get half of the state budget. What percentage of the Texas state budget goes to K – 12 public schools?

  29. thanks !! very helpful post!


  1. […] Blog:  Joanne Jacobs calls it the insulin monopoly.  A nursing association sued, demanding that only nurses be allowed to administer insulin injections to students.  A judge ruled in the nurses’ favor.  In California, most schools don’t have school nurses, at least not yet. […]