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Thursday, December 01, 2005

Medication Management – A dose of reality

One of the most important aspects of children’s health care is the administration of medications in school. About 13 million children in kindergarten through 12th grade take medication in any two-week time period, according to a Univ. of Iowa study. They take a variety of medicines, from antibiotics and asthma drugs to behavioral and mood-regulating medications. Many have serious side effects and must be taken at precise times in exact doses.

In the meantime, the number of school nurses is falling, meaning many children are getting their medications from people without a medical background, such as secretaries, teachers or counselors.

The risk of administering the wrong medicine to children is severe, because medical errors are a leading cause of death and injury and medication errors contribute to the toll.

The Center for Health and Healthcare in School says school districts should take these steps to reduce the risks:* Establish a medication policy that lists the employees who will administer medicines and make it available to staff, students and parents.

* Make sure non medical staff are trained on dispensing medication.
* Develop a systematic way of recording each time a child takes a dose of medication.
* Make sure employees who dispense medications compare student names with the names on the medication labels before administering each dose.
* Lock drugs away to prevent theft.