Asthmatic 12 y.o. Died After School Staff Confiscated His Puffer

Readers — This tfszkthtan
is a story
that happened in 2012 in Canada: Ryan Gibbons, a 12 year old with asthma, was not allowed to carry his life saving medicine at school.

School policy was to keep the inhalers under lock and key and staff repeatedly confiscated spare inhalers from Ryan, added Gibbons. “I received many a phone call stating Ryan had taken an inhaler to school and they found it in his bag and would like me to come pick it up because he wasn’t even allowed to bring it home with him,” [his mother] said. “There’s supposed to be one in the office and that’s the only one he can have. I didn’t understand why.”

One day, the young man had an asthma attack on the playground. As the CBC reports: “No one could get his inhaler in time because it was locked in the principal’s office.” For safety’s sake, I guess. He was so goshdarn safe from a farfetched fear — that somehow having his medicine with him would compromise his safety or the other students’ — that he died. He is a martyr to bureaucratic reasoning. Why would a school keep lifesaving medicine AWAY from a student who needs it? The “medicine is a drug. and drugs are dangerous” equation seems to illustrate the same modern day mentality that insists on treating all threats as equal and enormous, without pausing one moment to think about how life really works. It’s draconian dumbness. Think about it: Parents are arrested for letting their kids wait in the car for five minutes, as if this is the same as five hours. Schools go on lockdown whether there is a madman on the playground, or a burglar somewhere in the suburb. A mom is jailed for letting her kid walk to the park, or play there, as if this is the same as sending their kids into a crack den. We refuse to acknowledge the difference between an everyday situation that presents a tiny speck of risk (as do almost ALL activities), and ones that pose a true threat. Now Ryan’s mom is pushing for new regs that would allow asthmatic students to carry puffers. I’d like to see a rule that allows all kids who need medicine to carry it. In fact, I’d like us to wipe out all the rules that grossly overestimate risk and underestimate our kids, our communities and plain old resilience. – L

School contraband?

School contraband?

, , , , , , ,

112 Responses to Asthmatic 12 y.o. Died After School Staff Confiscated His Puffer

  1. NicoleK September 3, 2014 at 7:57 am #

    What do they do about epipens?

  2. SKL September 3, 2014 at 8:33 am #

    I hear about these rules all the time. No idea how this makes sense to anyone. There have to be 100 better ways of dealing with the “risk” of letting a child keep his life-saving medicine close.

    When I was a kid, kids carried their stuff and that was that. And the human race did not die out.

  3. Wait? September 3, 2014 at 8:41 am #

    First of all, someone needs to exxplain to the school the difference between the steroids people moan about and this medicine which is technically a steroid. I refuse to believe that they know this because ignorance can be fixed, stupidity can’t. Wishful thinking

    Second, (according to medical sites) the side effects of minimal unnesscary exposure to either epipen or asthma meds (which is the only kind of exposure that could really happen if anyone is paying any attention) is at worst, what happens if someone attempts to treat a bad nightmare with one too many coffees.

  4. MichaelF September 3, 2014 at 9:14 am #

    It’s all about shades of grey, and what the schools are willing to deal with in litigation. The fear of lawsuits and the damages that can ensue cause them to over-think and overprotect what should not need to be done. Basically it’s CYA against those unscrupulous lawyers who just want to have huge lawsuits to collect their outrageous fees.

  5. BL September 3, 2014 at 9:28 am #

    Whoever made this rule is now a murderer.

    Hang them from the neck until dead, and then give them a fair trial.

  6. Maggie September 3, 2014 at 9:54 am #

    This makes me want cry.

  7. SOA September 3, 2014 at 10:02 am #

    This is a special issue to me. I have a son with life threatening food allergies. Epipens are always to be quick and nearby in case of an exposure. Our elementary school does have an amazing nurse on staff and she is always there. So one set of epipens stays with her and another set in the cafeteria in the possession of the cafeteria manager. I have never met the cafeteria manager. But I trust the nurse and if she is for some reason unavailable there is the back up with the cafeteria manager

    They will not let my son self carry or his teacher keep one in the classroom. I don’t want my son carrying yet as it is expensive meds and I think he would lose them. But I would like the classroom to have a set and the teacher to be trained on giving the epipen which is extremely easy to learn.

    But since the nurse is so good and I live 1 minute from the school we let it go for now.

    When he is in middle and high school though I am prepared for a HUGE fight. They don’t have nurses on staff all the time. They let the office secretary or admins in charge of the epipens and I don’t trust them. They are not always there. They are not medical professionals. They treat kids as criminals anyway and won’t believe them when they say they are sick.

    So I am going to demand and fight for my son to self carry. They don’t let the kids carry backpacks so I am going to also fight for him to be allowed to carry some kind of a messenger bag or something that he can put the epipens in so he does not have to wear a fanny pack and look like a dork. He does not deserve to be made fun of for this. He can carry his meds and still look cool.

    If the school fights me on it. I will get a 504 plan and then they have to go along with it. If your school fights you on the medicine get a 504 plan and with your doctor’s approval they cannot deny you to self carry. Don’t back down on this.

    My kids also have asthma but it is mild so they really don’t need inhalers. I just told the nurse and teachers if they are having a problem to call me and I will come get them.

    But the schools are terrible about life saving meds. Especially in zero tolerance schools. They send kids during attacks to walk themselves to the office and try to convince them to give them their meds that are locked up and sometimes no one is even there to get it for them. Hell no. Not happening.

  8. Earth.W September 3, 2014 at 10:03 am #

    Such is the stupidity of zero tolerance.

  9. SOA September 3, 2014 at 10:05 am #

    ps I hope the parents sue the holy shit out of the school system and win. The only way to make them change their policies is take the money out of their salaries. True story.

    I know I will sue if their fucked up policies hurt my kid. I have told them point blank in their face this info. So they are fair warned and that is most of the time why they don’t mess with me because they know I will do it.

  10. Andrew September 3, 2014 at 10:07 am #

    This is outrageous. Not murder, but surely culpable homicide of some sort.

    Why are the schools confiscating these life-saving medications? What risks are they concerned about?

    So, having confiscated the medication, how was the child meant to gain access to it in time?

  11. Warren September 3, 2014 at 10:19 am #

    This amazes me that parents just allow the schools to do this. It is not difficult to get around.

    My oldest had an issue with her high school about meds being kept in the office, and she would have to come down and get her dose dispensed to her, when needed.

    One phone call to admin. from our family doctor straightened that out. Once your doctor informs the school that his/her patient is required to keep their meds on them at all times, and they are willing to put it in writing, there is not a damn thing the school can do about it. School policy does not trump your doctor’s prescribed course of treatment.

    When he found out that the school even wanted to hold her Midol for her cramping, he wrote a prescription for that.

    Again the school didn’t like it, but sucks to be them. It is nice having a doctor willing to go the extra step.

  12. pentamom September 3, 2014 at 10:20 am #

    More kids are going to have to die before these policies are changed everywhere. 🙁 I think eventually they will be, but the cost is horrendous.

  13. Warren September 3, 2014 at 10:23 am #

    If I am not mistaken, is it not illegal to possess another’s prescription meds, without their permission?

  14. Laurambp September 3, 2014 at 10:30 am #

    I don’t understand the mentality that students need special permission from doctors to take ANY kind of medication. As an adult, I appreciate that I can keep small amounts of OTC medication on me (Excedrin for headaches, Ibuprofen for cramps, Alka-Seltzer for stomachaches, and DayQuil for colds/allergies) so that if I am not feeling well, I can take a dose and get back to work.

    The majority of the time when I would get sick in school, this was all that I really needed. However, without access to these medications, I would just be miserable the rest of the day and want to either sleep the rest of the afternoon or have my mom pick me up. This was not productive for anyone – being sick in class was distracting for me, my teacher, my classmates, and it was inconvenient to make my mom get me from work to take me home.

    When I have kids that are school aged, I don’t care what kind of authorization I need to get, they are going to have access to this stuff in school.

  15. Marcie September 3, 2014 at 10:34 am #

    Both of my daughters have mild asthma that can be exasperated by colds, and have their puffers in their backpacks. One time my oldest daughter could not find her puffer (she had left it at home) and was having an attack. I have told them both before that if they need one and can’t find their own or are closer use their sisters as it is the same med, same dose and we always just use which ever is closest if they need it (which is a few times a year or when they have a cold). She told her teacher but they would not give it to her without written permission from me. I understood this except for the fact that when they went with her to her sisters backpack, the inhaler in there had my oldest daughters name on the prescription label. IT WAS HER INHALER. But they made her suffer until they got a hold of me and I sent an email as “written” permission. In that permission I said my preteen daughter was able to manage her own medications as she saw fit. I feel like I would be irresponsible if I DIDNT teach my children how to use their medications on their own with no help., but clearly they feel the opposite.

  16. Kimberly Herbert September 3, 2014 at 10:38 am #

    I am grateful that my HS principal was willing to work with my parents and me about my epi kit. Because we had reason to fear it would be stolen, I did turn it into the nurse each morning. It was kept in a specific place that I had access to. So if I had a reaction, I could get to it even if the nurse wasn’t available. I picked it up before last period and took it to last period and after school practice.

    I worked at a Pk – 8 campus with an RN. They had several kids classified as medically fragile. Keeping the emergency meds with the nurse wasn’t an option because of how large the campus was and difficulty communicating between several buildings. They had these red first aid fanny packs. The child’s name was put on the fanny pack. The medication was kept inside. Depending on the child’s maturity either the teachers or child were responsible for the packs. All staff that dealt with the child or were in rooms either side or across the hall were taught how to administer the medication.

    The reason for the rooms on either side or across the hall became evident one time. A little imp had caused a bunch of trouble with the sub in his room. So when he told the sub his blood sugar was low – she thought it was another trick. He went to the teacher across the hall, who was able to quickly step in and deal with the situation. His parents – were furious and he was grounded for a month for his antics that day in class.

  17. required name September 3, 2014 at 10:40 am #

    I never understood keeping puffers and epipens in the nurse’s office when I was teaching. I had to be trained so I could administer the epipen during field trips, when I would be allowed to carry meds for the kids, so why not allow me to keep them in my classroom? Then they would at least be closer to the kids. And we were supposed to have the kids leave their cough drops with the nurse. I always ignored that rule, younger kids could have me keep their cough drops in my desk and older kids could just keep their own damn cough drops.

  18. BL September 3, 2014 at 10:56 am #

    ” Not murder, but surely culpable homicide of some sort.”

    Well, we have a couple lawyers among our regular posters, don’t we? Isn’t forcibly preventing people from taking medicine a serious crime in most jurisdictions? And murder if it results in death?

  19. Havva September 3, 2014 at 10:58 am #

    This issue is near and dear to me.
    In middle school, I came down with asthma. I was going to take my rescue inhaler into school one for the school and one for me. I mentioned this to a friend on the walk to the bus stop and she begged me not to tell the school. Her parents had a massive fight to get her and her older sister the right to carry their rescue inhalers. My friend was refused her inhaler, her older sister was reluctantly allowed 1 of her 7 types of inhaler, only because her identical twin sister had died of an asthma attack (that started in the hospital) shortly after birth. The school frequently searched the girls for contraband inhalers although my friend at least never tried to circumvent the rules.
    Following her advice, and with parental support, I kept my condition and the inhaler secret. One day, I had an asthma attack. With everyone rushing to the buses I couldn’t get the privacy I needed to take my medication, and with how fast the buses leave I decided to just head to the bus and hope the attack subsided. Frankly had my inhaler been in the office I might have made the same decision but the outcome may have been deadly. The bus driver noticed I was turning purple and came back to me asking where my inhaler was. When I reached to unzip my backpack I couldn’t do it. The bus driver took the inhaler out and administered it for me (a violation of school rules) because I was beyond the ability to operate the inhaler.
    Even if I had headed straight to the office, which I might not have, I would not have been able to self administer, so policy would have dictated a call to 911. The nearest ambulance (if at its station) would have been 6 miles away, the next closest was 12 miles away. Following the rules that day might have killed me and certainly would have lead to an unnecessary 911 call and much suffering. Had the school allowed students to freely carry rescue medication I would have stopped the attack at the first wheeze.

  20. marjorie September 3, 2014 at 11:18 am #

    This makes me apeshit. I’ve told both my daughters to carry their inhalers. (COME GET ME, NYC DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION.)

    I don’t mind following the rules at camp. I’ve talked to the doctor and nursing staff, I’ve seen how the camp runs, and I trust their ability to cope with an emergency. I do not trust understaffed and underfunded schools to handle a medical crisis. I don’t blame the schools. I’m sure they’d LIKE to have more supervision on the playground, more full-time support staff and an on-site doctor and full-time nurse and I’m sure they don’t want to have me do endless, endless paperwork to prove my kids have asthma (??) and threaten to punish me if the paperwork isn’t in on time (aka a few days after they give it to me, necessitating trips to two doctors in two days and I’m sure THEY have nothing better to do than sign papers saying uh, yes, this child has asthma. But bureaucracy and idiocy tie everyone’s hands.

    I’m ranting again, aren’t I.

  21. Papilio September 3, 2014 at 11:27 am #

    Well that makes it official. The US really hate kids.

  22. Brooks September 3, 2014 at 11:39 am #

    I got tired of filling out the forms for my son’s medicine, so when he got old enough to be stealth, that’s exactly what we do. He doesn’t take anything, according to the school’s records. He knows to go in a toilet stall and hide all evidence. We do this for school, camp, scouts. Of course an inhaler is different. There’s no way to hide using it when needed.

    Fortunately for kids who need them, we haven’t gotten that crazy yet here in the deep south. Kids are allowed to carry them.

  23. Lindsay September 3, 2014 at 11:47 am #

    Wow. Just wow. I have nothing but bad feelings for the staff at this school, and my whole family is in teaching. My son has asthma and since he is too little to use an inhaler, he uses a nebulizer. The school PURCHASED a nebulizer for the staff to use, and he has his own tube and mouthpiece since there are multiple kids in his classroom that use the same machine. All we had to provide was the albuterol and a written consent form for the staff (usually his teacher) to administer it as they felt was necessary. They use it more than I use his at home, and I’m completely comfortable with it since it’s a life saving device and the worse that can happen is he gets it when he doesn’t truly need it and gets a little hyper for a while. The only issue we have now us getting something for him to use on the bus, and to get the bus driver trained for it. Maybe he gets these accommodations because he’s in a small special needs classroom? I thought it was reasonable of them, and I love that I don’t have to pay for another nebulizer, which we were willing to do.

  24. nina September 3, 2014 at 11:50 am #

    I just got off the phone with the school nurse to find out what if my sons were allowed to carry their inhalers on them, because it was an issue last year. Thankfully, our school district changed their policy this year and children are allowed to carry and self administer life saving meds if they have a doctor’s note. So sometimes sanity prevails.

  25. J- September 3, 2014 at 11:54 am #

    I am again reminded of one of my favorite quotes: “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are ‘I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.'”- Ronald Reagan


    I agree with you. One of the problems with the way policies like these get enforced is that there is no direct accountability to the bureaucrat(s) who make this policy. Some kid dies, maybe the school lets sued, and the district pays damages out of its budget. When a bad policy leads to direct harm, the policy makers and enforcers should be held personally responsible. If the mom sues and wins, the money should come directly from the bank accounts and assets of the people who created and enforced the policy. Make a bad decision, loose your house. This should apply to schools, police, city governments, etc. Its not enough to make someone lose and election, they need to loose their life savings too.

  26. LindaS September 3, 2014 at 11:57 am #

    I have a three year old son (turning four in October) in full day JK in Canada who has severe food allergies. He carries his epi pen with him at all times and a backup is kept unlocked in his classroom teacher’s desk. Whether he kept it on his person or in his backpack was my call based on an assessment of his maturity, but the school fully expected him to have it available and easily accessible.

    For the parent worried about “dorky” fanny packs, try a running supply store. They have very slim runner’s waist bands designed just to hold a key or iPod and are big enough for an epi-pen while being small enough to fit totally unseen under clothing. That’s the solution we’ve gone with for the last little while and it’s worked really well for us.

    He also has mild asthma and has a puffer with him on cold and damp days, or when he’s coming down with a cold. He can use it at will and if he needs teacher assistance to administer – sometimes his three year old fingers can’t push down the button on a new cannister – I just had to leave a signed form at the office at the beginning of the year authorizing them to assist as required.

    Anyways, I’m glad that not all school districts are strict to the point of nonsense with medical policies. In spite of being only three we’ve worked really hard to teach my son how to communicate, monitor and even medicate his conditions as required and I’d be very upset if the school insisted on taking that power away from him since his health outside of school relies in large part on him being able to advocate for himself.

  27. Michelle September 3, 2014 at 12:02 pm #

    Luckily my kids don’t have to take any life-saving medication, and they don’t attend public school anyway, but I can’t see putting up with this. I feel like I would have to send in a letter advising the school that my child would be sent with an inhaler every day. I would find new, and creative ways of hiding it on his person. I’d take trips to the school in the middle of the day to replace confiscated inhalers, and if they weren’t returned, I’d present the school with a bill.

    I would try it the nice way first; I hate confrontation. But I’m also extremely stubborn, and plenty willing to outlast the school no matter how long it takes.

  28. BL September 3, 2014 at 12:03 pm #

    “Well that makes it official. The US really hate kids.”

    You realize this story is from Canada?

  29. Mark Roulo September 3, 2014 at 12:11 pm #

    “Well that makes it official. The US really hate kids.”

    Because a child died in Ontario, Canada due to what *REALLY* appears to be stupid district policy?

    Rough crowd this morning …

  30. BL September 3, 2014 at 12:14 pm #

    @Mark Roulo
    “Because a child died in Ontario, Canada due to what *REALLY* appears to be stupid district policy?”

    All countries bordering Canada are equally responsible!

  31. Jenna K. September 3, 2014 at 12:14 pm #

    My son has asthma and has an emergency inhaler. He was diagnosed over the summer and this is all new to me. I was frustrated at the beginning of the school year with the forms I had to fill out and how he has to keep his inhaler in the office. I kept wondering, how will he get to it fast enough if he actually needs it? Wouldn’t it make more sense to let him keep it in his backpack? Besides, he’s 10 and fully capable of administering it himself. We’ve gone over it lots of times and he’s had to use it a few times already. He has other asthma meds he takes at home that also use an inhaler, so it’s not like he doesn’t know how to use one. It’s so frustrating. I’m not sure what is so safe about keeping a child’s needed medication out of their reach. Any kid who uses such medication isn’t going to use it when they don’t need it! It makes him whoozy and he doesn’t like how it makes his heart beat faster, so he’s not going to use it unless he needs it!

    Sure, it would prevent him from sharing it with his friends, but he’s smart enough to know it’s his life-saving medication and not to share that with friends. Duh. I had so many friends in school who needed insulin, inhalers, and epipens and that was back when we carried our own meds and it wasn’t a big deal. I remember taking my doctor-prescribed ibuprofen for terrible menstrual periods at school, carrying it in my purse, and it was fine. Everything is so over-regulated now, it’s sick.

  32. Christina September 3, 2014 at 12:16 pm #

    Our public school system has one nurse for every 3-5 schools. Technically, the students are not allowed to bring medications to school, but so far the teachers have just worked around it with a quiet “stick it in the lunch bag” approach.

  33. Reziac September 3, 2014 at 12:17 pm #

    Another point about allergic attacks vs prompt medication — the longer an attack goes on, the worse it will be next time, because the body ramps up the antibodies that are causing the problem in the first place. This can make a moderate allergic reaction into a severe one. I’m thinkin’ some schools need to be sued for causing lifelong medical disability for restricting kids’ access to their own damn meds.

  34. texasaggiemom September 3, 2014 at 12:18 pm #

    I felt ridiculous sneaking one into my daughter’s backpack. It’s really her brother’s inhaler, but she doesn’t have an RX for one. She only uses it maybe 2-3 times a year and I didn’t want her labeled an asthmatic for insurance reasons. This is the season she would need it and they’re running in her athletics class. I felt so stupid sneaking it in there and telling her to only use it in a stall in the bathroom, like it was narcotics or something.

  35. Cine C September 3, 2014 at 12:20 pm #

    Well said and oh so true! So tired of hearing about situations like this one… when I was in the school system each child was expected and taught to be responsible for his or her own self and security! Accidents happened and they were just that, accidents! Most of us made it through ok because we were taught early on how to be responsible! We were considered capable despite being kids.

  36. Reziac September 3, 2014 at 12:23 pm #

    BTW, anyone here still in favor of the “War on Drugs” ?? Cuz this zero-drugs-policy in schools is a direct side effect of that obscenity, NOT of “OMG child safety”. The War on Drugs would have us believe that all drugs in the hands of children are a horrible thing all the time, regardless of what that drug is … your lifesaving inhalers and epipens and even and cough drops included.

    (I wonder how they justify confiscating cough drops that consist entirely of sugar and menthol and contain no medical drugs whatever. I guess they prefer kids recovering from the flu have racking coughs and disrupt both their own learning and the whole classroom.)

  37. amy September 3, 2014 at 12:23 pm #

    I didn’t know Canadians were paranoid too. Is our stupidity leaking over the border?

    Also, our schools treat cough drops the same way. Lock them up and require a signed release. In the meantime, teachers hand out candy quite freely as rewards, and I have to request every year of every teacher that my child not get any due to reaction from dyes. Feed them toxins, hide their meds.

    Admin has to know how stupid these policies are. They sit around a table and act sure and important, no one opposing because no one else appears to oppose.

  38. BL September 3, 2014 at 12:24 pm #

    “Thankfully, our school district changed their policy this year and children are allowed to carry and self administer life saving meds if they have a doctor’s note. So sometimes sanity prevails.”

    So they’re allowed to survive, provided they have a note from their doctor. Otherwise they can just die.

    Hardly sanity, though obviously it could be worse …

  39. Lisa September 3, 2014 at 12:35 pm #

    I live in Ontario Canada and my son’s best friend has anaphalaxis for peanuts. He is allowed to carry his own epipen on school property. He has been allowed to do so since he started jr kindergarten at age 3 1/2. He wears it in a waist pack / belt. I’m so glad that our local school board has no issues with him carrying it on his person.

  40. vikki September 3, 2014 at 12:49 pm #

    1/2 a mile is not that far. It only takes about 7 to 10 minutes to walk that far.

  41. Kenny Felder September 3, 2014 at 12:54 pm #

    Lawsuits got us into this problem. In this case a lawsuit may help get us out.

  42. sharon September 3, 2014 at 12:58 pm #

    I live in Ontario also and have two sons almost finished with the public school system. The oldest had moderate/severe asthma when he was younger and technically was not allowed to carry his medication. I always ignored this. There was an inhaler in the office but I also made sure he had at least one with him. I also let every teacher he had know this. Thankfully they were all reasonable people and had no problem ignoring the draconian school board policies. In high school he always has his migraine medication with him and I have made it clear that if there is ever an issue I am ready to do battle. I have never advocated sneaking around with life saving meds, this is a serious issue and people need to make sure their concerns are heard and policies are rectified.

  43. Mom of Three September 3, 2014 at 1:04 pm #

    Yes to all the other comments, but also a special thank you to Lenore for my new favorite phrase, “draconian dumbness.”

  44. SOA September 3, 2014 at 1:10 pm #

    This lady is not a fan of the “War on drugs”. I say legalize all drugs every last one of them. If someone wants to get high and ruin their lives with becoming an addict. Fucking let them. Good riddance. One less loser on the planet. Darwinism right there.

    Because many people are smart enough to just use drugs like marijuana or cocaine on a very rare basis and it does not hurt them. They don’t become addicted and it hurts no one.

    Some people are smart enough not to do drugs ever and that is fine too.

    The war on drugs is stupid and useless. If we make it legal than we just ruined every cartel and drug dealer because now they can go legit or find another line of work.

    Same with prostitution. When we regulate, legalize and tax things it actually is a positive thing becomes it becomes safer and gives more tax revenue and provides jobs and lowers crime.

    In our zero tolerance school you got the same punishment for bringing a tylenol to school as you did hard pure cocaine. That seems fair…………Yay to combat those tylenol addicts.

  45. Glen September 3, 2014 at 1:14 pm #

    Default comment: blame the lawyers. Since this happened in 2012, I was wondering if there has been a change in policy. I’m a medic in the U.S. and the inhaler and Epipen are secured in our bags and locked down in our medic based on policy and law. I think some of the comments are about as extreme as you accuse the other side of being. Are there any moderates out there? Are there any common sense steps we should take to make kids safe?

  46. Mark Roulo September 3, 2014 at 1:16 pm #

    “@Mark Roulo
    ‘Because a child died in Ontario, Canada due to what *REALLY* appears to be stupid district policy?’

    All countries bordering Canada are equally responsible!”

    What could be more fair 🙂 ????

    I’ll note that Denmark and France have territory that borders Canada (via water). Greenland for Denmark and Saint Pierre and Miquelon for France. Are France and Denmark on the hook, too? I’m thinking not …

  47. Alanna September 3, 2014 at 1:18 pm #

    Often times the school’s fear is that another child will somehow get a hold of the medication and use it inappropriately. This can happen, I suppose, but I think it would be rare. It is important for the parents of the child needing the meds to explain to the child why he or she should not give it to someone else and should not leave it somewhere where someone else could grab it. A twelve year old such as the boy in this story would certainly be old enough to understand this. A smaller child such as a preschooler might need to have a teacher hold on to it, or what I have often seen done where I teach, the meds are kept in the nurse’s office which is never locked.

    I don’t think people always realize that asthma can be a killer. I have ended up in hospital emergency rooms a few times myself.

  48. Donna September 3, 2014 at 1:19 pm #

    “Well, we have a couple lawyers among our regular posters, don’t we? Isn’t forcibly preventing people from taking medicine a serious crime in most jurisdictions? And murder if it results in death?”

    They weren’t forcibly denying him medication any more than I am forcibly denying my child medication if I leave her inhaler in the bathroom, but she has an asthma attack in the living room.

    At best, this would be negligent homicide. Since it sounds like the child just couldn’t get inside in time – not that a key couldn’t be found or the principal locked his office before he left to go to a meeting – I would be shocked if anyone was prosecuted.

    Nor should anyone be. Nobody intended for this boy to die. Charging someone at the school with murder is no different than charging a free range parent with murder if something happens to their child while free ranging. We need LESS prosecution, not more. This should be a serious wake-up call that the policy needs to change for life saving medication, but not fodder for prosecution.

  49. John September 3, 2014 at 1:19 pm #


    Quote: “You realize this story is from Canada?”

    But it very well could have happened in the U.S. too because most schools here have the same stupid policy. A question I have for any legal person here, could there be a wrongful death lawsuit here? There certainly should be!

    BTW Lenore, excellent commentary on this issue! Very eloquently said.

  50. Puzzled September 3, 2014 at 1:23 pm #

    This is now lawsuit worthy. It’s prosecution worthy.

    When I worked at a school, I thought the rules were far too strict and inappropriate high school aged students (I still do.) However, when students had serious allergies, I would make sure when they moved in that they knew to carry their epi-pens, and that they had an extra in their room. It never occurred to me to take them. It’s just absurd.

  51. Puzzled September 3, 2014 at 1:26 pm #

    By the way, why would you share it with friends? You can’t get high off of it. Is anyone really wanting to see what a fast heartbeat and wider air passages feel like?

  52. Steve S September 3, 2014 at 1:29 pm #

    Gross negligence, but probably not murder. Regardless, this is zero tolerance rearing its ugly head again and this incident will likely result in a huge lawsuit. I don’t know if it will be enough to get ride of these rules. People seem willing to accept all sorts of limitations when it comes to fighting the war on drugs.

    I like Warren’s idea about having the doctor write a letter saying that it is medically necessary for the child to have the medication on them. In my state, there may be some legal grounds for refusing, but I don’t see that as a fight most schools would want to get into, especially if we are talking about a drug that has a low potential for abuse.

    Another option if you trust that your kid can be discrete and keep their mouth shut is very careful deep concealment.

  53. Donna September 3, 2014 at 1:30 pm #

    “A question I have for any legal person here, could there be a wrongful death lawsuit here?”

    This is much more likely than prosecute. But it’s Canada where you can’t really sue anybody – the exact reason I’m opposed to tort reform; sometimes people need to get hit where it hurts to make needed changes.

  54. BL September 3, 2014 at 1:43 pm #

    “But it’s Canada where you can’t really sue anybody – the exact reason I’m opposed to tort reform; sometimes people need to get hit where it hurts to make needed changes.”

    But in the US, the people who will get hit are the taxpayers, no? You can sue “the school” but not the individual members of the school board or the nurse or the principal.

  55. Steve S September 3, 2014 at 1:51 pm #

    You can sue “state” actors in their individual capacities under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in some instances. In those cases, they can be held personally liable, though a school district is going to have much deeper pockets.

    I agree with Donna about tort reform. I don’t really practice that much in that area, but from what I have seen, tort reform doesn’t really benefit most people and doesn’t do what it says it does.

  56. SOA September 3, 2014 at 1:57 pm #

    I am not a fan of tort reform since someone brought it up. Because yes we have a bunch of stupid law suits out there, but in some cases like this one, suing them is the only way to make them wake up and face the reality and change their damaging policies. Plus if my child dies from not being able to get his epipens, I want all the therapy I am going to have to get for his twin brother to be paid for. Because if he loses his twin brother he is going to be messed up for life in the head. Losing a twin is very traumatic. I want him to have money so that he will be taken care of because his twin brother who was supposed to look out for him as he got older, is gone forever. He may have lost his twin brother but at least he will not have to worry about money. I would want it for my son who lost the person who is everything to him.

    If it was YOU that something like this happened to, you would want the money. To pay for funeral expenses, therapy, medical bills, etc. that resulted from this.

  57. SOA September 3, 2014 at 2:00 pm #

    Donna: I don’t agree. To me it is murder. If I tell someone if you do this it could end up killing my child, and they do it anyway, and it kills my child. To me that is no different than you pulling out a gun and shooting my child in the head. They KNEW it could be a problem. They KNEW the risk. And they did it anyway. Now they should face the consequences.

    Because a child with a medical condition that is kept from life saving medications dying is way way more likely than some other random thing that could have happened by letting him self carry his meds.

  58. Donna September 3, 2014 at 2:33 pm #

    SOA – I don’t agree with the policy, but the vast majority of schools in the US have it and yet asthmatic kids are not dropping like flies. It is an extreme minority of asthmatics that die within the small handful of minutes it took for this child to die. We don’t even have any idea whether this child had any history of having asthma attacks this severe.

    And what if mom, having dealt with Jr. losing/breaking inhalers too often and never experiencing an attack this severe, told Jr. to leave his inhaler in his backpack and he died in the 2-3 minutes someone ran to get it? Do we charge mom with murder? Or if Jr. left it in his desk, do we charge him with attempted murder?

    We simply don’t have to prosecute people every time someone dies in a potentially preventable way. Nobody intended this to happen. It is extremely rare for this to happen.

    Epi-pens are a more complicated issue. Since, unlike inhalers, they are not meant to be self-medication, I can see schools wanting an epi-pen in the hands of the people who know how to use it and not with the child who is never going to administer it to himself anyway. For elementary school, they can easily remain with the teacher and that is the most reasonable place for them to be. It is not like we really expect a 7 year old’s classmates to do anything other than go get the teacher if the need arises. Once kids start changing classes the epi-pen needs to move with them.

  59. Andy September 3, 2014 at 2:36 pm #

    Where did the big deal about medicine in school came from originally? How did it started? When I had to take medicine as a child big enough to manage it, I took them with me and used when needed. I do not remember having to go to special office or report on special place for prescribed drugs.

  60. SOA September 3, 2014 at 2:39 pm #

    Actually epipens can be self administered. The allergist works with the patient as well as their caregivers on how to properly administer them.

    The thing is if the parent expresses a problem with the policy and wants her child to carry it on their person, and the admin refuses, if said child later dies because they could not get to the medication quick enough. That is absolutely their fault and it was their call that caused it.

    Actually I hear about kids dying a lot over this. And that is just the ones that die. How many close calls do you think there are? I witnessed a close call of another kid when I was in school. The kid was having an attack and had to try to walk themselves down to the office and it was scary.

    I heard about a kid that was trying to get to the office and collapsed on the way there and died. If that medicine had been with him, he might still be alive.

    This is not acceptable risk to me. Some risk is acceptable. This is not.

  61. C. S. P. Schofield September 3, 2014 at 2:41 pm #

    I’ve been following this story off and on for a while. What I don’t get is that the Mother has taken up political activism to get the policy changed.

    I would be working to murder the entire school system staff, and any politician connected to the policy, one at a time, painfully. It’s the only way they’ll learn.

    My understanding, BTW, is that every State in the US has some form of law or other on the books stating specifically that schools may NOT take inhalers from children, if well established permissions are provided. In the first years of these laws, several schools tried to enforce “policy” anyway, and got slapped down HARD.

  62. Steve S September 3, 2014 at 2:54 pm #

    I can’t speak for all states, but mine has a law on the books that schools have to allow students to possess an inhaler or epi-pen if the child has a prescription for it and the parents provide notice to the school. It was passed in 2000. Sounds like Canada needs to get on the ball and make some changes. Most US states did this 10+ years ago.

  63. Gina September 3, 2014 at 2:55 pm #

    Here in lovely Arizona, my son (a 17 year old senior!) cannot carry his medicine from my car to the Nurse’s office even if I park outside the door to the Nurse’s office and wait till she sees me!!!!!
    But, a nine-year-old can fire an Uzi with parental permission….

    I am speechless, once again.

  64. Amanda Matthews September 3, 2014 at 3:16 pm #

    It’s ridiculous that – after the first time the mother was informed that his life-saving medicine had been taken away and would not be returned – she continued sending him to that school.

    Stand up against this bs BEFORE your children die! Would you patronize a store that refused to let you carry an inhaler, and instead insisted you leave it at the check-out counter? No, you’d go to a different store, you’d order online, you’d start making whatever you need yourself. DO THE SAME TO SCHOOLS.

  65. Papilio September 3, 2014 at 3:21 pm #

    @BL: Aargh!

    I do now.
    Let’s make it North America then.

  66. Donna September 3, 2014 at 3:40 pm #

    “That is absolutely their fault and it was their call that caused it.”

    Fault and murder are two totally different things. If I get distracted, run a red light and kill someone, that death is certainly my fault. I have not committed a murder. I’m probably not guilty of anything other than running a red light.

    “Actually I hear about kids dying a lot over this.”

    Really, Dolly? And there are no news articles? No public outrage? No citizen groups looking to change the policy that exist at just about every school in the US? Apparently this is the ONLY mother who actually loved her child.

  67. SKL September 3, 2014 at 3:56 pm #

    Not legal advice, but I think an argument could be made that this was negligent homicide.

    However, it won’t bring the little boy back. Nobody thinks anyone intended to harm. I’m sure everyone involved is suffering.

    The mom is on the right track – change the law – and I hope enough people get behind her to make it happen.

  68. Beth September 3, 2014 at 3:56 pm #

    Rescue inhalers are not steroids; they are brochodilators. Serevent, photo above, is not a bronchodilator and should not be used for acute asthma episodes. I’m not sure if Serevent is a steroid or not, but it is a daily medication used to reduce asthma symptoms overall. It will not help in an “attack”.

  69. C. S. P. Schofield September 3, 2014 at 4:13 pm #

    “I’m sure everyone involved is suffering.”

    In the case of the school authorities, not enough. They should be whipped through the streets at a minimum.

  70. Nicole 2 September 3, 2014 at 4:15 pm #

    When I was in middle school we actually had to fight the school over this. I walked about a mile to get to school- I had to have my inhaler on my person. Even if I’d taken the bus I’d have had to have it.

    My state ended up passing a law that required schools to allow emergency medication (inhalers, epi pens, etc) to be carried with a doctor’s note. I can’t believe there a places they still confiscate rescue inhalers.

  71. Steve September 3, 2014 at 4:21 pm #

    It’s too bad this woman didn’t know an asthma attack can usually be relieved without meds quickly using EFT.

    Watch at least 2 minutes of this clip.

    Robert Smith’s talking about using Faster EFT to help people get over their asthma symtoms for good. If parents of kids with asthma and allergies knew about this (and used it ), medications wouldn’t be needed. My wife got rid over her allergies with EFT. It has nothing to do with medicine. Most doctors are clueless, but not all.

    It’s amazing how many things we remain ignorant about just because we haven’t been exposed, even though we have the net. We all have stories. I remember the time I went online to look for video projectors. I assumed they were all like the ones I’d seen. Big! – But I found a small one by Benq that I can put in my coat pocket. Seriously, it’s that small, yet powerful enough to project my computer image onto a movie screen or wall in minutes. I was amazed because I’d never seen one. Nobody had ever mentioned them. And that was years ago. I’ll bet a lot of people still haven’t seen them.

  72. Nicole 2 September 3, 2014 at 4:27 pm #

    The emotional freedom technique is bunk and can kill an asthmatic if used in place of a rescue inhaler. Trying really hard to refrain from swearing here.

  73. bay September 3, 2014 at 4:31 pm #

    Nope. Too sad. Too too sad. His parents will spend the rest of their lives mourning and regretting not taking up arms against this rule in his lifetime. It’s too dumb. This death for what reason?

  74. no rest for the weary September 3, 2014 at 4:32 pm #

    I’m in a different province, and my son was required to carry an epi-pen in his backpack, as well as have one in the office.

    The whole “dangerous to other students” stuff is a load of baloney. The harm done to someone recreationally huffing a little albuterol or whatever it is cannot compare to the harm done to someone who NEEDS that drug not getting it promptly when needed.

    I suppose you could put someone’s eye out with an epi-pen, but you could do that with a pencil as well. I know, you could jam one into your finger and cause permanent nerve damage or some such thing, but come on, let’s weigh the risks for either protocol. Having classroom access, or better yet having the child carry themselves, wins the logic contest every time, right?

  75. hineata September 3, 2014 at 5:04 pm #

    Crazy, crazy.

    That said, I have taken inhalers off one of ‘my’ boys, because he was puffing away at two-to-three times the correct dosage for his weight and age, (that particular day he was sent home to get over the cold he should never have been sent to school with, plus the mild ‘high’ he’d given himself from overdoing it) but unless it’s a self-management issue every asthmatic child should be carrying their own medication. I always tucked Midge’s at the bottom of her backpack, and even at school camps it wasn’t an issue (self-medicating, that is).

    I wonder what this school does with diabetics?

  76. EricS September 3, 2014 at 5:24 pm #

    @SKL, many of the thinking in this era doesn’t make sense. It’s all fear based. Whether it’s the misguided notion of “protecting” our children, or authorities protecting their collective arses. Either way, it has very little to do with the kids. It’s 90% politics. Like you said, we carried all sorts of stuff in our pockets when we were kids. Stuff that would either land kids of today in detention, or their parents in jail. Yet, we are all still here.

    Authorities need to stop thinking about what is best for THEM, and actually do what is best for the kids. And use COMMON SENSE. I’m still baffled how this simple concept is so over looked these days. I’m glad my nephew’s school allows him to carry his epipen on him. In fact, they require it. Guess this school lacked good judgement. I remember this story, but never heard anymore about it. Like what happened to the school, it’s staff, it’s principal, and it’s policy that killed Ryan Gibbons. I don’t care what policy they put into place, they are still responsible for the well being of the children. If a child dies on their watch, when it was completely preventable, had they used better judgement, they need to be reprimanded.

  77. BL September 3, 2014 at 5:25 pm #

    I know there’s nothing humorous about the story, but when I first read the title I though it said “…School Staff Confiscated His Putter”.

    And I thought WTF!!??

  78. EricS September 3, 2014 at 5:50 pm #

    Wow SOA! Wow! I’m just flabbergasted by the article you posted.

    That’s just pure negligence by the nurse, and the school. They let a boy suffer horribly (suffocating is horrible), because a release form was not submitted?! That’s just insane! I hope that nurse got what she deserved. Hopefully karma won’t be so cruel to her or her loved ones, when they need medical assistance, and everyone just stands idly by. Because they don’t want to get sued for trying to help. Which has happened.

    Even hospitals will treat the critical before checking if they have insurance. It’s all about saving a life FIRST. Everything else is secondary. This biatch doesn’t deserve to be a nurse. Hopefully she got her registration revoked.

    Stupid people. And getting dumber every year.

  79. lollipoplover September 3, 2014 at 6:30 pm #

    This school didn’t even have a nurse.

    I was a running coach for our school’s running club last year and had 3 asthmatic kids in my group. All of them handed me inhalers to hold in my bag while they ran, just in case. I am sure this was not allowed (our school nurse is a bureaucratic, paper-pushing bitch), but all 3 kids had asthma attacks on my watch. Ever see a kid struggle to breathe? Not something I ever want to see again. I’m glad I was right there to hand over the inhaler to give them relief. Most of the attacks were exercise induced, one was from the change in temperature, all were scary as hell.

    If they are going to hold the inhalers for the children, why are they indoors (in the Principal’s office) when kids will likely have the attacks outside with exercise? This is like keeping your fire extinguisher in your shed behind your house instead of in the kitchen, the most common place for fires?
    These rules are harmful and stupid. So sad for this kid.

  80. Warren September 3, 2014 at 7:16 pm #


    Why so surprised at not having a nurse? None of my schools, or my kids schools had or have nurses.

    Honestly I do not see the need to have a nurse on staff, at a school. Waste of budget.

  81. Emily September 3, 2014 at 8:09 pm #

    @Warren–Can I amend that to say that schools should EITHER have no school nurse at all, or one who’s there the entire time the school is open, and possibly during extra-curricular activities as well? I mean, it does no good to have a part-time school nurse, or one that’s split between more than one school, if a child has a problem while the nurse isn’t in. Also, I agree that having asthma inhalers indoors, while most asthma attacks take place outdoors, makes absolutely no sense. When I was in elementary and high school, we didn’t have a school nurse either, but we knew that–the procedure when someone got sick or hurt was to go to the office, and someone there would deal with it, either internally with Band-Aids and ice packs, or if necessary, the sick or injured student would be picked up by a parent, or sent home (high school), or if it was really serious, medical help would be arranged. We didn’t play Russian Roulette with a “sometimes the nurse is in, sometimes not” system. It really threw me off when I was in university, and the health centre was closed for lunch (first round) or it was only open on Tuesdays and Thursdays (which was the case at the university I attended in Australia), and people acted as if this was acceptable. My point is, whatever system you have in place, make it clear and consistent, and make sure that it actually works–meaning that no bureaucratic rule could put anyone in medical danger. Oh, and yes, when I was in elementary and high school, students with asthma always kept their inhalers with them. I graduated high school in 2003, which is more recent than a lot of other members of FRK, so I have to wonder, what’s changed in such a short amount of time?

  82. Nicole 2 September 3, 2014 at 9:15 pm #

    When you have medically complex kids at the school you need someone with medical training. Parents are, of course, capable of taking care of their kids- but that’s because they receive training and education. A parent does not need to be educated and trained to meet the needs of twenty or thirty kids with complex medical needs.

    It doesn’t necessarily have to be a nurse- at a smaller school it might be an EMT or CNA who also works as a PE teacher or school secretary, and has a nurse they can consult with at another school. The nurse can have other duties such as teaching health classes. Expecting office staff without the medical background to handle medical emergencies for kids with a variety of medical conditions (asthma, diabetes, food allergies, behavioral issues, developmental disabilities, etc) is asking a bit much.

  83. Emily September 3, 2014 at 9:39 pm #

    @Nicole 2–I agree, but when I was in high school, the school just somehow made it work. There was a blind girl in the year behind mine, and a diabetic boy who was in grade nine when I was in OAC (so I didn’t know him personally), and on the weeks when I read the morning announcements, when I went into the office vault to pick up the key to the P.A. room, I’d always see a picture of the diabetic boy on the wall, with instructions on what to do if he needed help. Right below that notice was a care kit with extra insulin, meter, test strips, glucagon, juice boxes, and frosting in case he had a low blood sugar episode. All of this was spelled out in advance by his parents, and it was basically, “Follow this procedure, and if it doesn’t work, call us or 911, as the situation warrants.” I didn’t know this boy personally, because he was just starting high school as I was just finishing, but I’d imagine that the plan would have been approved by his parents and his doctor. Like Warren, I’m from Ontario, and most schools here don’t have school nurses. When I learned about the phenomenon as a child, in (mostly American, but some British) books, movies, and TV shows, I was surprised that other countries had them. But, you’re right; it does seem like an unfair burden to put on the principal, vice-principal(s), and office staff, to have to deal with normal childhood illnesses and injuries, medically complex students, discipline-related incidents, bullying, attendance, and all kinds of other things that most people don’t even think about. We probably should have had nurses in the schools (as opposed to police officers in high school), but we just didn’t, and that was just normal for us.

  84. Warren September 3, 2014 at 10:17 pm #


    I cannot speak for every school in Ontario, but I do know that even high schools with populations over 2000, they still do not have a nurse.
    As for a nurse teaching, unless they have the required qualifications, he/she cannot teach. And a nursing diploma does not qualify them to teach.

    I now figured out why, in the states that the schools have attained so much authority over families. It is because the families expect so much of the schools. They expect the schools to feed them, and provide a nurse.

    A nurse on a school staff full time is just a waste of money. That can be used for so much more.

  85. Warren September 3, 2014 at 10:21 pm #

    Before you jump on the get a nurse in the school bandwagon…….how many kids have died or suffered severely because we do not have nurses in the schools?

    In Ontario, most nurses do not have the authority or ability or training to do what the paramedics do. Just the way it is. And if you are going to get the absolutely fully certified up the ying yang nurse practioner, it would cost a fortune for nothing, as the school does not want to have the liability. It has been looked into at some boards, and just deemed not worth it.

  86. Emily September 3, 2014 at 10:37 pm #

    @Warren–I wouldn’t say I’m jumping on any bandwagon; I was just looking back and trying to think how we got along without a school nurse during my K-OAC years. The answer was a patchwork of Band-Aids, wet-frozen-sponge-in-Ziploc ice packs, kids throwing up in inopportune places (classroom floors, playgrounds, and one time, a girl threw up oatmeal and orange juice all over a computer keyboard), skinned knees and elbows, heads bashed on the concrete from over-enthusiastic sliding on the ice or down packed snowbanks, occasional broken bones, and parents being called in to pick up their kids who’d gotten sick or injured. For what it was, this system was okay, and it worked as well as it could, but we didn’t have a whole lot of medically complex kids at any given school. Maybe that was just dumb luck, but it surely can’t be the case everywhere. I’m not saying that every school should necessarily have a full-time school nurse, but it might be a good idea for schools that have students enrolled who’d need one, because you can’t very well say, “Oh, Jimmy has severe asthma? Well, I’m sorry, he can’t attend public school.” There are 504 plans in place to address that, and I’m sure that “my child needs to attend a school with a full-time school nurse” is something that comes up a lot on those plans.

  87. lollipoplover September 3, 2014 at 11:03 pm #

    @Warren- I was just pointing out the lack of a nurse, not saying they are needed.

    Our school nurse is known for losing all of the completed forms and physicals and saying she never received them so you have to pay more form fees from the doctor’s office for her ineptitude. She is called the ice lady. The only thing she ever does is give kids ice for every injury or ailment. Headache? No advil or tylenol,just ice. She has no compassion or interest in caring for sick children and the school would be better served with some retired grandmas who actually have compassion to care for children. Not form pushers who like power trips.

  88. hineata September 4, 2014 at 12:02 am #

    A nurse wouldn’t be a whole lot better than ordinary Joe Bloggs at handling medically complex kids – both would require training in whatever specifics were involved in each child’s condition.It’s not like they’re allowed to write scripts for medication. Any half-competent human can decide a kid needs sending home if they’re sick.

    I do find the idea of an actual nurse working in a school quite mind-blowing – as Warren says, let them work somewhere they’ll be useful, like a hospital.

    I don’t think I’ve ever worked at a school with a nurse….if a kid breaks a limb, say, you do what the nurse would have done, phone for the ambos. Though Boy says they evidently have a nurse working at the high school, though she doesn’t seem to do much….She definitely doesn’t keep meds for neurotypical kids, anyway, as they all carry their own.

  89. Lance Mitaro September 4, 2014 at 12:08 am #

    The irony is that they create these INSANE liability policies at the local school boards that covers their own collective asses. It’s suppose to exempt them from any and all negligence do to children, then something like this happens. I hope the kid’s parents sue the shit out of them for interference and reckless endangerment of a child resulting in death.

  90. hineata September 4, 2014 at 12:17 am #

    As a matter of fact, as I am typing this, Midge is setting up her twice-weekly infusion. She sterilises the kitchen table and her hands, bends her own needles, draws her own product (two bottles) up into what looks like a horse syringe, primes the needle and shoves it in herself. Then all she has to do is sit there for an hour or so pressing the plasma slowly into her leg.

    The process for doing this, which saves a day every 3 weeks in hospital, was a first for the hospital we attend. I got a couple of funny photos of 6 of us (we the parents, the hospital paediatrician, two nurses and a student) all standing around looking at pictures sent from the hospital in Auckland and trying to work out what she was meant to be doing, while she went ahead and just did it.

    Anyway the point of that is that even medically complex kids can and do do a more-than-okay job of treating themselves, once they’ve received some training – which we all need, even doctors. And while asthma can be a very serious condition, as we see above, usually it isn’t medically complex – the ‘cure’ most of the time is a simple inhaler, for heaven sake…!

  91. J.T. Wenting September 4, 2014 at 1:39 am #

    “If I am not mistaken, is it not illegal to possess another’s prescription meds, without their permission?”

    you no doubt have to sign some sort of waiver about that, where it’s mentioned in the small print on page 5000, when signing your child up for the school…

  92. Jenny Islander September 4, 2014 at 1:42 am #

    I remember there being an actual nurse at all schools as a matter of course–and no cops, ever. The school nurse’s job was to assess for emergent situations, treat non-emergent situations, and call for help when necessary.

    Things our primary school nurse, Mrs. Saupe, did as a matter of course that from what I can tell would get somebody like her fired today:

    *Dispensed non-prescription painkillers, as well as sugary items for the hypoglycemic.
    *Determined that a child was too ill to be in class but not sick enough to go to the hospital, then provided a quiet, dark, solitary place to lie down until a responsible adult could come collect the child. IIRC the school sick cot was actually a gurney cranked as low as it would go. Just in case.
    *Touched children as needed in order to apply small bandages, icepacks, heating pads, disinfectant, topical painkiller for burns and stings, etc. Also performed simple physical examinations.
    *Monitored children experiencing low blood sugar, mild asthma symptoms (until the inhaler med kicked in), heat illness, possible concussion, etc., as needed.
    *Assisted with shots for the diabetic, etc., as needed.

  93. Peter September 4, 2014 at 1:52 am #

    Wow, that’s horrible. It’s still a rare situation, I think, but I don’t think the kid would’ve been giving other kids his inhaler to misuse. He should’ve been allowed to keep it on him.

  94. J.T. Wenting September 4, 2014 at 1:53 am #

    “I’ll note that Denmark and France have territory that borders Canada (via water). Greenland for Denmark and Saint Pierre and Miquelon for France. Are France and Denmark on the hook, too? I’m thinking not …”

    France is automatically to blame for anything and everything. It’s the law 🙂
    Denmark are just ignorant, and ignorance is no excuse…

  95. Mary September 4, 2014 at 2:38 am #

    When I was in elementary school in the 80’s/90’s I was hauled into the office and interrogated by a police officer, school psychologist, secretary, and principal for being a drug dealer. What drugs was I bringing to school (forget dealing, I never shared)? A chewable flintstones vitamin and chewable vitamin c tablet with my lunch everyday.

    If I’d brought a box of sweet tarts to school everyday it’d be totally fine. Bring a sweet tart that can’t possibly harm anyone unless they choke on it that is nutritionally fortified: drug dealer.

    I can only assume things have gotten much worse since then.

  96. Cassie September 4, 2014 at 2:41 am #

    I am shocked.

    In Australia (I am a high school teacher), there are lists on the staff room walls of all students with severe allergies (with their photos), we know who they are and are drilled in what to do if anything goes wrong… and this includes assisting with the administration of the epipen that they carry with them (ie, the students carry their own epipens, and we are aware and expected to be prepared to assist them in using it). One of the things we are always told is that “Johnny/Sarah will know when to use it”, basically the onus being on the young adult (this is highschool) being self-aware and capable of administering his/her own drug, we are just expected to be a back up.

    As for puffers… well of course students with asthma would have them on their person.

  97. Mike September 4, 2014 at 2:50 am #

    Remember, in a bureaucracy, only one thing matters: Was procedure followed? Results are completely irrelevant.

    Procedure was followed, but the child died, well, that’s sad but nothing bad happened. Bad, of course, means NOT following procedure.

    Remember this whenever dealing with a bureaucracy. All it cares about is procedure. Never, ever results.

  98. Sara September 4, 2014 at 4:11 am #

    I’m kind of conflicted about the “Every school with medically complex kids needs a nurse” bit. I’m in Germany, and here we just don’t have school nurses. Some private schools may have them, but public schools? Almost never. And we manage to scrape by just fine.

  99. K. Kaprow September 4, 2014 at 7:42 am #

    Free-range kid badly bruised, both eyes nearly swollen shut, but she is free. FREE!

  100. TaraK September 4, 2014 at 8:45 am #

    So thankful for a school with common sense. When my then third grader was at school coughing, his teacher gave him a cough drop, from her purse, and sent me an email later. We had a good relationship, she asked him first if his mom ever gave him cough drops and when he said that I did she felt the freedom to give him one.

    I send my kids to school with OTC meds all the time. “Put this in your lunch box and take one at lunch if you need it” (new braces, twisted ankles, that sort of thing). I’ve never had anyone blink.

    Yes, this is in America, and yes, it is a private school.

  101. Warren September 4, 2014 at 9:26 am #


    Are you suggesting that every parent leave work and be at school to supervise their child during recesses, and lunch?

    Because this happened during school, and has nothing to do with the parents.

    A really pathetic attempt to attack free range parenting.

  102. J- September 4, 2014 at 11:58 am #

    @ K. Kaprow

    There are few quotes that truly express the very soul of America as:

    “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” – Patrick Henry, March 20, 1775.

    Accidents happen, bad people do bad things, but those rare instances are no enough, and never should be enough, to lock all of our children away from the world.

  103. SOA September 4, 2014 at 12:59 pm #

    As I said earlier our school nurse is wonderful. So they all are not useless. She has always kept up with all the medications and forms and knows the kids and looks out for them. She helps the kids that get injured or sick during the day. I think she does a great job and earns her paycheck and then some. We have a bunch of food allergy kids at our school and a diabetic kid and kids on ADHD meds etc and she is definitely needed.

    So I cannot say enough positive things about her. I would feel a lot worse about sending my son with the food allergy to school without her. I know he is safe with her.

  104. Shari September 4, 2014 at 1:20 pm #

    This is really sad and stupid, and it should have been innately obvious how stupid it was. Failure to use our powers of critical thinking can be deadly. There is rarely a one-size-fits all solution.

    My kindergartner was found to have a little tube of Neosporin in his pocket, which was confiscated. That’s fine, he has no need for it. It’s the commentary that went with it that I didn’t like “We didn’t know why he had it, if he would eat it, or who knows what.” They could have at least asked, and would have heard his earnest little voice reply, “I brought Neosporin and bandaids because we should always be prepared in case someone gets hurt on the playground.”

  105. Christine September 4, 2014 at 4:27 pm #

    Not all schools are so ridiculous. My 12 year old has asthma and she is allowed to carry her inhaler as long as she has a signed medical form on file with the school nurse. Children should be allowed to carry things like inhalers and epi-pens with them at all times because in an emergency seconds count!

  106. Papilio September 4, 2014 at 5:00 pm #

    I tried to find what schools here do with kids & meds, but all I could find was stuff about what teachers should do when *they* would be the one administering the medicine and not the kid itself (no school nurses here either). Not a word about taking medicines away from children old enough to manage it themselves.
    Somehow the kids don’t drop like flies…

    I’m also very glad no one was ever interested in what I brought to school, as long as I brought what I needed in my classes.

  107. Puzzled September 4, 2014 at 9:15 pm #

    Where I worked, we had a nurse because of crazy regulations prohibiting non-family (i.e. teachers) from reading the instructions on prescription bottles and dispensing the medications contained therein. That makes you a ‘designated practitioner’ which requires being a nurse – a paramedic can only be designated for specific medications. No, a nurse cannot do what a medic can in an emergency, but they can deal with a lot of things a medic isn’t sure about. I’ve gotten the nurse’s opinion when I’m not sure if a student needs to go to the hospital. On the ambulance, that kind of thing comes up a lot less.

    To be honest, the school probably would have been too afraid of lawsuits to let teachers dish out meds anyway – and most of the teachers would be afraid. We live in a crazy society.

  108. Reader September 4, 2014 at 9:41 pm #

    I do get “office gives out medicine” rules for some things. For example, if a kid needs medicine at the same time (e.g. recess) every day, and they’re quite young, it might be better for the office to dole it out to ensure the kid doesn’t forget to take it. Also, some medicines need refridgeration, especially kids’ liquid medicines (I was a sickly kid and spent many a recess going to the office for a dose of hideous *strawberry-flavoured* antibiotic).

    But for “emergency” medicines that need to be taken immediately, the kid should have them on their person at all times. Maybe keep a spare dose at the office too, in case the kid should forget theirs. If it’s a medicine that could be dangerous if the child accidentally took MORE than one dose, and they’re young enough that this might be a risk, just give them only one dose to carry.

  109. Alex September 5, 2014 at 1:55 pm #

    For children with insulin-dependent diabetes, this question of who is allowed to administer lifesaving medication has been a real barrier to school attendance in the US. Schools had been refusing to allow children to self-administer, refusing to allow school employees other than nurses to administer, and refusing to provide nurses. This meant that either diabetic children could not attend school, or that their parents (not trained medical professionals) had to come at least once a day to inject their child. Not everyone has time off from work and a car to do that, but if they kept their kids home, they were charged with truancy.

    Families understandably sued. Children have the right to an education regardless of whether they have a medical condition. Part of the problem is not just schools’ liability concerns, but the issue of whether a state requires a person to be licensed as a nurse to inject insulin. Insulin is a subcutaneous injection that most patients do for themselves after a brief training, not a more dangerous intravenous injection. So, nursing associations trying to protect their professional turf have endangered children by fighting in court to keep kids and school employees from administering insulin. The California Supreme Court ruled last year that licensure requirements can’t keep schools from administering insulin (, but other states are still having problems.

    In Michigan, at least, non-nurses can be trained to administer insulin, and schools are required by a new state law to keep epipens on hand and train their staff to use them on any kid who has a severe allergic reaction, regardless of whether they have a prescription. That’s because epipens are designed to be easy to use, and have few dangerous side effects and no contraindications, whereas anaphylactic shock is deadly, unpredictable, and relatively common.

  110. Fleur Oakes September 10, 2014 at 1:59 am #

    You would think that school policy would be able to distinguish between illegal drugs, OTC medication and prescribed medication.

    Thankfully, I never suffered from asthma. I did have hayfever as a kid, and sometimes I took my medication to school. It never occurred to me to tell a teacher or anyone in authority that I was carrying drugs. My hayfever was my problem, and it was my job to manage it. In all fairness, I will say it wasn’t a life-threatening condition, more a it affected the quality of my life condition.
    I also had bad colds a few times and usually when I got a cold, I coughed badly as well. I couldn’t afford to miss school, so I used to take a bottle of cough medicine to school with me. This was back in the days when cough medicine still was still alcoholic. I didn’t tell anyone I had it, nor did I hide it. If I needed a dose, I would slip into the bathroom, and have a quick swallow.
    It certainly wouldn’t have been practical to keep medication at the office of this school. It took 5-10 minutes to get from one side of the school to the other, and that was going at a run.

    And it is not just conditions like asthma that can knock you down quickly. Diabetes is another condition where your condition can deteriorate suddenly. I have been my mother, who is a type two diabetic go down quite quickly from a sugar low. I understand that it is much worse for those with type 1, especially kids. A kid might need to have glucose tablets or some kind of sweets on them to help avert the low. By the time someone had gotten to the office, it might be too late.

  111. Dan September 12, 2014 at 1:04 pm #

    This is frankly ridiculous. As a scout leader in the UK I insist that all inhalers and epi-pens required for severe allergies or asthma (ie life threatening) are carried by the kids who need the, them at all times. If they turn up without it I will phone their parents to get it bought along! I also insist that a duplicate set is handed in on camps to be kept in the meds box as a backup. for the very young ones that are not yet mature enough to carry it themselves (which normally is only those who also have learning difficulties) then the leader will carry it. We recommend bum-bags to carry them in, preferably bright red