Health Care Reform

Epilepsy Foundation » Advocacy » Health Care Reform » 2004 Administration of Medication in Schools, Daycare, and Camps 

Administration of Medication and Other Treatments in Schools, Daycare, and Camps

Background on the Issue:

The Epilepsy Foundation is aware of multiple situations in which people with epilepsy who are prescribed Diastat® (rectally administered diazepam) or other FDA approved treatments (e.g., the VNS (vagus nerve stimulator)) have been denied access to school, daycare, or school-related activities, or have incurred unnecessary medical risks because educators and child care service providers refuse to make the medications readily available onsite.

For most people, conventional medications that can be taken orally are effective in controlling seizures. A number of children in particular though, are susceptible to prolonged, cluster, or status seizures; these seizures may last longer than five minutes in duration and can cause serious injury and even death. For these people, the doctor may prescribe a product called Diastat ® (rectally administered diazepam) to be administered on an emergency basis, or some other similar treatment. Following standard procedures, as prescribed by the treating physician, caretakers such as parents, school nurses, teachers or daycare providers, can administer these therapies on-site when a prolonged seizure or cluster of seizures occurs. 

The Epilepsy Foundation’s Position:

Federal and state laws guarantee every child/student the right to participate in free, appropriate public education in the least restrictive setting.  Schools, camps, and day care providers are also required to provide many health-related services, including administering medicine, if needed, to students with disabilities, as either a reasonable accommodation or a related service. The purpose of these laws is to ensure that children with chronic health conditions like epilepsy can be educated in the least restrictive environment and participate in recreational activities, camp and daycare programs with their peers.  Because medicines, including rectally administered diazepam, can be administered by nonmedical personnel who have received proper instruction, lack of access to a doctor or full-time nurse is not an acceptable reason to refuse to administer the medication on-site or to deny a child or student access to the program.  The Epilepsy Foundation wholly supports these principles as being in the best interest of the child. 

The Epilepsy Foundation urges providers of childcare and educational services to work with the child, his or her parents and the child’s treating physician to learn how and when to administer the appropriate treatment.  Schools and service providers should, along with the child’s parents and as appropriate, the treating physician, develop a plan for ensuring that adequate measures are taken to administer the treatment and that the appropriate staff is properly trained to do so.  Such a plan may legally be a part of a Section 504 plan, an IHP, an IEP, or simply a plan required to ensure compliance with the ADA; the critical point is that a mutually satisfactory approach that allows the child or student complete access to educational opportunities can and should be developed to cover the potential need, usually remote, for administration of Diastat. The Epilepsy Foundation believes that this approach is not only more desirable than exclusion from a program but also that federal law requires such instruction as either a reasonable accommodation or a related service.  Proper planning and adequate instruction will ensure that children with seizures who require these services will be able to participate in school and other activities as the federal law requires.