Administering prescribed medication at school
When a medical practitioner has prescribed medication that must be administered during the school day, parents are responsible for:
- bringing this need to the attention of the school
- ensuring that the information is updated if it changes
- supplying the medication and any 'consumables' necessary for its administration in a timely way
- collaborating with the school in working out arrangements for the supply and administration of the prescribed medication. See role of parents
The administration of such medication forms part the Department's common law duty of care to take reasonable steps to keep students safe while they attend school. This duty of care is fulfilled through its staff members.
The administration of prescribed medication in schools is carried out by staff who volunteer and who are trained. Department of Education and Training staff can access the e-Administration of prescribed medication at school (e-APMAS) course from the Department's intranet.
Key points to remember:
- Parents of children who require prescribed medication to be administered at school must complete a written request.
The principal will provide the form (DOC 38kB) to the parent.
If parents have difficulty in completing the form they should ask the principal for assistance.
- Students must not carry medications unless there is a written agreement between the school and the student's parents that this is a planned part of the student's health care support.
Please note: Students' immediate access to prescribed medication is very important for the effective management of conditions such as asthma. Students and parents need to be advised of this requirement so that students are not left without access to critical medication.
- It is the principal's responsibility to fully inform relevant staff of the management implications of students requiring the administration of prescribed medication.
- Except in an emergency, only individual staff members who have volunteered and been trained, will administer prescribed medication to students.
- The principal will oversight implementation of the course of action that he or she has determined is necessary for the support of the student's health needs.
- It is the principal's responsibility to ensure that all copies of the written medical advice and any other relevant documentation are stored in a secure and confidential manner.
- Advice or further information to assist the principal can be obtained from student welfare consultants and disability programs consultants.
Self administration of prescribed medication by students
The common law duty of care does not extend to administering prescribed medication to students who are reasonably able to self administer.
However, if a student self administers prescribed medication the Department has a duty to take reasonable steps to ensure that the self administration is carried out safely.
Note re Emergency Care
Schools do not generally supply or administer medications in an emergency unless they have been provided by parents as part of the negotiated individual health care plan for a specific student.
In an emergency which has not been anticipated in the emergency/response care section of an individual health care plan, staff will provide a general emergency response, eg call an ambulance. Where an emergency response requires the immediate administration of medication to prevent serious illness or injury, staff should administer the medication eg Ventolin for a first asthma attack.
In general, schools do not administer medication which has not been specifically requested by a medical practitioner for an individual student for a specific condition. In some cases the medical practitioner may not write 'a prescription' for such medication because it may be available 'over the counter'. NSW Health advises that this does not mean that the medication is not potentially harmful and that schools should follow the same procedures for such medications as for 'prescribed medications'.