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Learning to Use Your School's Medication Policy Safely

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Those unlicensed personnel were three times more likely to make medication errors.

School nurses are simply spread too thin to do their jobs the way they would like, McCarthy tells WebMD. "A lot of school nurses are responsible for multiple buildings, for large numbers of children. And there are a lot more children in schools with higher healthcare needs -- kids with IV tubes, wheelchairs, ventilators, children taking medications. So it's no wonder unlicensed people end up dispensing medications."

So, how can you make the system work for your child?

The AAP and the National Association of School Nurses recommend you follow these steps to ensure that all goes well in medicating your child in school:

  • Contact your school nurse or principal. They can explain the rules your school follows for handling and distributing medicine.
  • Find out who is responsible for administering medication in your school, and what medical training they have.
  • Deliver the medication yourself, in the original container, to the school nurse or office.
  • Put everything in writing. If your child has prescription medication for a specific illness, you'll need a note from your child's doctor. A similar note, either from a parent or doctor, is advisable for any over-the-counter medication your child is taking for an illness.
  • Tell your child never to share prescription or over-the-counter medication with another student.
  • Keep natural and homeopathic remedies at home.
  • Tell the nurse about any special considerations for storing the medication, such as need for refrigeration.
  • Know how your children will get the medication. Will someone call your child to the school office, or will he or she have to remember to get his or her medication?
  • Call the nurse or your child's teacher periodically to find out if your child is getting the medication according to your instructions. Schools often keep a medication log.
  • Update your child's medical history forms as needed.
  • Be certain that your child knows what the medication looks like and how much and how often it should be given. Doing this will help your child know if he or she is getting the wrong medication or incorrect dosage at school.

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