Aiming to help students with adrenal insufficiency disorders avert potentially life-threatening emergencies, a bill sponsored by Assemblywoman Yvonne Lopez, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin and Assemblyman Dan Benson to allow students to self-administer their medication if needed received full legislative approval on Thursday, passing the Senate 35-0-5.
“For a student with an adrenal insufficiency disorder, if their body on any given day doesn’t produce enough steroid hormones they can find themselves suffering from hypoglycemia, dehydration, diarrhea, vomiting or lose consciousness,” said Lopez (D-Middlesex). “In some cases these symptoms can lead to life-threatening situations. With this bill, students will be able to carry and administer their own medication to ensure they are prepared for an emergency.”
The bill (A-4799) would require a school district or nonpublic school to permit the self-administration of medication by a student for adrenal insufficiency, provided they meet the same conditions as a student permitted to administer medication for asthma or other potentially life-threatening illnesses or allergic reactions. The student would be permitted to carry the medication at all times, provided that he does not endanger himself or others through misuse.
School districts and nonpublic schools would be required to develop a policy for emergency administration of hydrocortisone sodium succinate medication through appropriate delivery devices and equipment for students with adrenal insufficiencies. Similar to current law for emergency administration of epinephrine for students with anaphylaxis, parents or guardians would provide written authorization and submit written certification from a student’s physician or advanced practice nurse that the student requires administration of the medication for adrenal insufficiency. Under the policy, the district or nonpublic school would be required to inform the parents or guardians that it will incur no liability arising from the administration of medication, and the parents or guardians must sign a statement in acknowledgement of such. The pupil’s prescribed hydrocortisone sodium succinate must be placed in a secure but unlocked location to ensure prompt availability in the event of an emergency situation at school or at a school-sponsored function.
“No parent wants to send their child to school worrying if they won’t have access to the medication they need if a problem arises,” said Speaker Coughlin (D-Middlesex). “Parents and students alike can find comfort in knowing the child is carrying exactly what they need to diffuse an emergency with them at all times, and they’ll be able to take the medication on their own.”
“This bill is long overdue,” said Benson (Middlesex, Mercer). “It’s a tool that can help students thrive just as their peers.”
Additionally, the bill specifies that no school employee, or any other officer or agent of the school district or nonpublic school, will be held liable for any good faith act or omission consistent with the provisions of the bill, nor will an action before the New Jersey State Board of Nursing lie against a school nurse for any action taken by a person designated in good faith by the school nurse.
Prior to gaining Senate approval, the measure passed the full Assembly 77-0-0. It now heads to the Governor’s desk.