California Supreme Court demands school nurses get their priorities straight – administer insulin injections or else

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It seems that the American Nurses Association had forgotten all the words to the Hippocratic Oath.   On Monday, August 12, 2013 the California Supreme Court handed down their decision to put the lives of children before the almighty dollar reminding school nurses of their insulin injections

In 2005, the fight over who could administer insulin to diabetic students began in Northern California and just a few short years later the K.C. Lawsuit was settled.  California law always allowed for the emergency administration of insulin by trained staff members other than school nurses, but the American Nurses Association and the California Nurses Association were fighting over the matter of routine insulin injections.  And to some degree rightly so.

The fact of the matter was that schools were facing financial hardships across the state and to deal with their shortfalls, schools started cutting nursing positions.   While the schools could be to blame for cutting the positions, nurses were wielding the sword themselves by refusing to provide some of the basic services they were hired to perform (administer routine injections).  Hence the K.C. lawsuit and settlement.   When schools learned that they could function with fewer nurses and save big money – $85,000 to $100,000 per school site, they were on board.

Diabetic students have a right to self-administer insulin at any time and at any place on a school campus.  This highlighted the fact that nurses may not be needed to administer routine injections.  If a 7 year-old can self-administer why couldn’t a trained, responsible, teacher?  Again, they were allowed to provide emergency injections, just not routine injections.  Insulin shock can be a life threatening issue for school students and some students may become to weak or forgetful to remember to medicate themselves leading to shock.  Ensuring that a trained staff member is available to help students is vitally important to the educational day.

No matter what your stance, student lives are more important than money, however, nurses play a very important role in children’s lives.  We can only hope that when we come out of this economic crisis that schools go back to hiring nurses for every school site.


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