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Is California School Nurse Shortage Hurting Our Kids?

Every California school should have at least one full-time school nurse, according to a new recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Unfortunately, the state’s schools currently fall significantly short, which could be putting children at risk.

The American Academy of Pediatrics previously recommended that school districts employ one nurse for every 750 healthy students, and one for every 225 students who need daily assistance. However, its latest recommendation acknowledges that the use of a numerical ratio was “inadequate to fill the increasingly complex health needs of students.”

To promote the health and safety of students during the school day, the Academy is now advocating a minimum of one full-time professional school nurse in every school with medical oversight from a school physician in every school district. “As more children with special health care needs attend school, the school nurse plays a vital role in disease management,” the report states. The academy specifically cites the increase in chronic conditions that often require daily management, including asthma, diabetes, and food allergies.

California has a lot of work to do, as most of its school systems fall woefully short under the old recommendation. As reported by California Healthline, 57 percent of California’s public school districts do not employ nurses. Across California, there is only one nurse for every 2,784 students, according to 2014 data cited by the organization.

As we have previously discussed on this blog, the lack of a qualified school nurse can put children at risk for medical errors. One of the biggest risks is that medications are now increasingly being dispensed by individuals with no medical training, including principals, gym teachers, and secretaries. This can increase the risk for error by three times according to one study. More serious errors included giving medications to the wrong child, giving children the wrong medications, or giving medications at the wrong time or by the wrong route.

If you or someone you care about has suffered serious harm due to a medication error or other serious medical mistake, you may be entitled to compensation. For more information, please contact a San Diego medical malpractice attorney at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage for a free consultation.