Friday, February 12, 2010

California law will clarify information about administering insulin to school-age students with diabetes

From Diabetes Health:

SACRAMENTO -- Assistant Speaker pro Tempore Isadore Hall, III (D- Compton) Feb. 11 introduced AB 1802, which would clarify existing law by allowing, but not requiring, a parent/guardian-designated teacher, administrator or school employee to administer insulin to a diabetic student while on a school campus.

An estimated 15,000 children in California have diabetes, many of whom attend public schools.

Type 1 diabetic students rely upon daily glucose blood monitoring and insulin injections in order to properly manage their medical disability. Advancements in medical technology along with engaged family members, health care providers and trained volunteers have made daily insulin administration safe and allowed diabetic students to lead healthy and productive lives.

Since 2007, many school districts have implemented successful partnerships to empower parents/guardians, health care providers and volunteers to administer insulin to diabetic students while on a school campus. Unfortunately, due to confusion in state law, some school districts have not implemented this important partnership necessary to keep diabetic children safe and healthy while at school.

"Too many children in my district and throughout California suffer from diabetes," said Assembly member Hall. "This growing epidemic requires us all to take a more active role in helping these children lead healthy lives. This proposal takes a medically safe, financially responsible team approach to managing diabetes and I am proud to stand up for diabetic children throughout California by introducing this important bill."

Sponsored by the American Diabetes Association and modeled after successful legislation in Washington State, AB 1802 will provide needed clarity in the law so that parents/guardians, health care providers, teachers, administrators and school employees can work as partners in helping children with diabetes remain healthy and successful in school.

Parents of children with diabetes, the American Diabetes Association, the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, Inc. (DREDF) and other diabetes, disability and child health advocates across California are rallying behind legislation introduced today in the California Legislature by Assembly Member Isadore Hall, III (D‐Compton). Hall is a member of the Assembly's Committee on Health and Chair of its Select Committee on Child/Adolescent Health and Safety. Hall's bill, AB 1802, would establishes a procedure by which a parent or guardian can designate a trained volunteer school employee to administer insulin to a child with diabetes in a public school, based on the medical instructions provided by the child's physician.

"This law will effectively address the dangerous situations currently faced daily by California's school children with diabetes," said Dwight Holing, Secretary‐Treasurer Elect of the American Diabetes Association. "If passed, this legislation will clarify existing law and help children with diabetes in California public schools to get the care they need and are entitled to under federal and state laws."

"Depriving these children and their parents of an effective solution to this critical health issue is a civil rights problem that can best be solved by the legislators of this state," said James Wood of Reed Smith, LLP, pro bono counsel for the American Diabetes Association. "Assembly Member Hall has done his homework and prepared a model statute that deserves prompt consideration and enactment before more children and families experience the dire consequences of improperly managed diabetes."

High blood glucose levels can impact a student's ability to concentrate and learn. Additionally high blood glucose levels can lead to severe disabling and life‐threatening complications including heart disease and stroke, kidney disease, blindness and amputation of the lower extremities.

According to the bill, approximately 15,000 children in California have diabetes, many of whom attend preschool through 12th grade in the state's public schools. A significant proportion of these children receive insulin by injection or through an insulin pump one or more times each school day, during typical school hours as well as during before and after‐school activities. Many children, especially younger children, are not yet able to administer insulin themselves. Confusion about who can legally administer insulin to a child has hindered the ability of California school districts to meet the medical needs of these children. Assembly Member Hall's legislation empowers parents and provides clear legal authority for these children to get access to care they need.

Assembly Member Hall held hearings across California in 2009 to gather information about what policies schools and school districts have implemented to care for students with diabetes while on campus. Francine Kaufman, M.D., a Board‐certified specialist in pediatric endocrinology and metabolism, Chief Medical Officer and Vice President of Global Medical, Clinical & Health Affairs for Medtronic, and a member and past President of the American Diabetes Association, was among the experts who testified at the hearing and has long supported the appropriateness and safety of using trained volunteers to administer insulin to children with diabetes.

"The very foundation of modern diabetes care is the training of lay people to safely administer insulin," said Dr. Kaufman. "Parents, caregivers and other unlicensed volunteers routinely administer insulin every day. Nothing about this is new; it has become the standard of care of diabetes treatment world over."

It is estimated that half the states in the nation already have laws and/or policies in place that allow volunteer non‐medical school personnel to administer insulin to public school students with diabetes, when school nurses or other health care professionals are not available. In addition, many school districts in California already permit a parent to designate an appropriately trained volunteer to administer medication.

"On so many levels, this legislation makes perfect sense. Not only does it directly address the human and civil rights of children with diabetes, it's also a fiscally responsible solution to an ongoing and pressing problem, regardless of the state's budget status," said Lisa Shenson, the mother of a child with diabetes and grassroots co‐chair of Diabetes in CA Schools. "It's morally, legally and ethically the right thing to do. We truly applaud the efforts of Assembly Member Hall and thank him for his work and commitment to children with diabetes."