Taking medicines at school

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Sending a child to school requires planning on the part of mom and dad. There are lunches to pack, clothes to buy and homework to oversee. In some cases, there are medical needs to plan for as well.

Often, kids who need medical care at school have a chronic condition, such as asthma or diabetes. But sometimes kids simply need help taking a medication, such as antibiotics, for a shorter period of time. In either case, school personnel may be available to help.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) offer these ABCs for helping kids cope with a medical condition at school:

A is for ask

Ask for a meeting at the school to discuss a care plan for your child. The meeting should include parents, the student (if you think he or she is old enough), school health staff, the coordinator of special needs services, the child’s primary teacher and (if possible) the child’s healthcare provider. If your child’s healthcare provider can’t attend the meeting, ask for written information on your child’s condition and medical needs.

During the meeting, ask who will be your primary contact at the school and if there are any special rules or restrictions about taking medicines at school. If your child’s school doesn’t give medicines, you may need to ask your doctor if there is a way to adjust the medication schedule.

B is for bring

Bring information to the school that will be needed to develop your child’s care plan. This information should include:

  • A brief medical history.
  • A description of the child’s special needs, as well as possible problems and special precautions that need to be taken.
  • A list of medicines or other assistance your child requires during the school day. If your child needs medicines, you must provide an adequate supply in pharmacy-labeled containers.
  • The name and phone number of your child’s healthcare provider.
  • Names of emergency contacts (and how to reach them).

Let the school know right away if anything changes.

C is for cultivate

Cultivate support. The more informed school staff members are about your child’s condition, the better prepared they will be to help. Otherwise, they may make incorrect assumptions about the child’s behavior or performance.

D is for develop

Develop an emergency plan. Provide the school with a consent-to-treat form. The form gives a physician permission to treat your child for medical problems when the child is in the care of someone other than the parents. The form should go to the hospital with the child.

“Your child is in a much better position to receive prompt medical attention if emergency personnel do not have to take time to get parental consent, track down medical records or investigate immunization histories,” says Frederick C. Blum, MD, fellow and former president of ACEP.

E is for explain

Explain to your child what arrangements you’ve made with the school, and help your child develop age-appropriate self-care skills.

F is for find

Find ways to make your child feel comfortable with treatment at school. Children sometimes feel embarrassed to be singled out. They may even resist going to school because they fear being perceived as different. In some cases, having a teacher explain to the child’s peers about the illness—asthma or diabetes, for example—may help other children be more understanding and accepting. You might also want to talk to school officials about setting up a place where your child can take medications privately.

For more information on keeping your child healthy at school, visit the School Health topic center.

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