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Nurses: Leave medication to us

May 15, 2010

School nurses are clashing with Sen. Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar) over a proposal that would allow school volunteers to administer medication to students suffering epileptic seizures.

Current state law prohibits any person from engaging in the practice of nursing without a license, but medication made for non-medical personnel to intervene and stop epileptic seizures could be administered by volunteers, Huff said.

“The interesting thing is that it’s getting all this push back when it’s been successful for 10 years,” Huff said of recent protests to the practice.


Volunteers in some school districts have been trained to administer the medication, called Diastat AcuDial, for a decade, Huff said.

“There have been no incidence of problems,” he said.

The drug, which must be administered rectally, is meant to be used during seizures lasting more than five minutes, which could result in brain damage or death, according to legislative analyses.

Valeant Pharmaceuticals North America, the manufacturers of the Diastat medication, developed it for use by non-medical personnel and it has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for that purpose.

But the American Nurses Assn. of California has argued that the drug could be dangerous if it is administered by someone who has received poor training or cannot identify important conditions that might preclude use of Diastat.

“One must also know that the person is not pregnant, does not have asthma, has not been drinking, nor is the individual taking or have taken other contra-indicated medications,” Elissa Brown, president of the association, wrote in a letter of opposition to Huff’s measure. “Qualified staff must make a full assessment of the event or harm will occur that may be irreparable.”

Failure to note these other factors could result in allergic reactions or could cause birth defects if patients are pregnant, Brown warned.

Huff argued that the medication has proven to be safe and that nurses were creating a “smoke screen” to argue for more nursing jobs rather than allowing for volunteers to administer the medication.

“My argument is even if we have nurses — we could have a nurse, we could have two nurses — but we still want this bill because nurses are not omnipresent?.?.?.?you need other people,” he said.

The bill was passed by the Senate Health Committee last week.


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