How to Handle Your Child’s Medication During the School Year
In the United States, more than 263 million prescriptions are dispensed each year for pediatric patients.1 Chances are, your child may need to take their medications at school. If your child has a medication that they need to take during school hours, whether it is a long-term, short-term, or emergency medication, here are some helpful tips for parents and guardians:
Prior to the School Year1,2
- Ask the pharmacist to put your child’s medications into two different bottles, each with its’ own label. One to be kept at home and one to be kept at school, if school policy allows.
- Make sure all the prescription medications kept at school are in an original container (ie., no zip-top bags or foil) and labeled by a pharmacist.
- Make sure all over-the-counter medications (including supplements) kept at school are in the original containers. Some states require a physician’s written consent and a parent written permission for over-the-counter medications. Be sure to check with your school.
- It is also important for your child to play active roles in their medication. They should be educated about the effective and safe use of their medicine to help avoid improper administration, dosing errors, and non-adherence.
At the Beginning and During the School Year2,3
- Provide the school with a full list of your child’s medications, including over-the-counter medicines and supplements. Be sure to update the school with any changes throughout the school year.
- Talk to the school nurse or teacher ahead of time to make sure your child’s medication will be administered correctly (icorrect medication, dosage, route, frequency). Define who will administer the medication, and who will carry the medications during field trips.
- School staff are not allowed to determine when to administer “as needed” medications. Be sure that your child’s medication includes specific instruction on when to administer and for what indication (ie., every 6 hours as needed for headache).
- All medications should be transported by adults to adults. DO NOT let your child carry the medications unless they are capable and responsible to self-administer their medication to carry their own medications, especially for emergency medications that need immediate access, as deemed appropriate by the school.
- Be sure your child is able to get instantaneous access to emergency medications, like epinephrine injections for allergic reaction, glucagon for low blood sugar, or albuterol for an asthma attack.
- Acetaminophen, ibuprofen, antihistamines are usually available at school in case your child experiences sudden pain or fever such as headaches, toothache, or menstrual cramps. It is important to sign a waiver granting the school permission to administer these medications in case your child experiences these symptoms.
Lastly, most schools and school districts have policies regarding student’s medication handling. It is important for you to check with your school for specific protocols that you need to follow to make sure that your child is getting the proper care.
- Abraham, O., Brothers, A., Alexander, D. S., & Carpenter, D. M. (2017). Pediatric medication use experiences and patient counseling in community pharmacies: Perspectives of children and parents. Journal of the American Pharmacists Association, 57(1), 38-46. doi:10.1016/j.japh.2016.08.019
- Administering Medication at School: Tips for Parents. (2016, December 19). Retrieved July 25, 2018, from https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-home/medication-safety/Pages/Administering-Medication-at-Child-Care-or-School.aspx
- Guidelines for the Administration of Medication in School. (2003). American Academy of Pediatrics, 112(3), 697-699. doi:10.1542/peds.112.3.697
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