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When Should Students With Asthma or Allergies Carry and Self-Administer Emergency Medications at School?
Guidance for Health Care Providers Who Prescribe Emergency Medications
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Physicians and others authorized to prescribe medications, working together with parents and school nurses, should consider the list of factors below in determining when to entrust and encourage a student with diagnosed asthma and/or anaphylaxis to carry and self-administer prescribed emergency medications at school.
Most students can better manage their asthma or allergies and can more safely respond to symptoms if they carry and self-administer their life saving medications at school. Each student should have a personal asthma/allergy management plan on file at school that addresses carrying and self-administering emergency medications. If carrying medications is not initially deemed appropriate for a student, then his/her asthma/allergy management plan should include action steps for developing the necessary skills or behaviors that would lead to this goal. All schools need to abide by state laws and policies related to permitting students to carry and self-administer asthma inhalers and epinephrine auto-injectors.
Health care providers should assess student, family, school, and community factors in determining when a student should carry and self-administer life saving medications. Health care providers should communicate their recommendation to the parent/guardian and the school, and maintain communication with the school, especially the school nurse. Assessment of the factors below should help to establish a profile that guides the decision; however, responses will not generate a "score" that clearly differentiates students who would be successful.
NOTE: Although past asthma history is not a sure predictor of future asthma episodes, those children with a history of asthma symptoms and episodes might benefit the most from carrying and self-administering emergency medications at school. It may be useful to consider the following.
School and community factors:
In making the assessment of when a student should carry and self-administer emergency medicines, it can be useful to factor in available school resources and adherence to policies aimed at providing students with a safe environment for taking medicines. Such factors include:
NOTE: The goal is for all students to eventually carry and self-administer their medications. However, on one hand, if a school has adequate resources and adheres to policies that promote safe and appropriate administration of life-saving medications by staff, there may be less relative benefit for younger, less mature students in this school to carry and self-administer their medication. On the other hand, if sufficient resources and supportive policies are NOT in place at school, it may be prudent to assign greater weight to student and family factors in determining when a student should self-carry.
This guidance sheet was developed as a partnership activity facilitated by the NAEPP, coordinated by the NHLBI of the NIH/DHHS