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What to Know About Medications at School

What You Need to Know


Updated July 23, 2009

Many children at some point will need to take medications at school. Whether they are medications taken for a chronic condition, or they are drugs for short term problems, you need to know a few things about medications at school.

Was your child recently diagnosed with exercise-induced asthma? Does your child need eye drops for a recent eye injury? Either way, medications may need to be taken at school. What do you do now? Either you can try to avoid the situation entirely, or you can work with the school to have the medications administered there.

If your teen is taking a medication a few times a day, he or she might need to take it at school. Ask the person who prescribed the medication if the medicine can be given in a way where it doesn't need to be done during a typical school day. Even if a drug needs to be given three times a day, your provider might be able to come up with a schedule that avoids school hours. Alternatively, your provider might be able to prescribe a medication that is given fewer times a day, like a long-acting version of the same medication your teen is on. If possible, the prescriber can offer an alternative drug that isn't given as often but would be just as effective as the one your teen is on. Your provider will know what could work best for your teen.

If your teen must take medication at school, you will need to work with the medical staff to get the meds to your son or daughter. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that each school obtains written information about any medications to be given at the facility from the prescribing provider. You and your provider will have to provide information about what drug your teen will be taking, the dose, the time it should be taken, why it is needed and the side effects that should be expected. Your provider can also add if the medication can be self administered or not. Be aware that it is often required that a new form is filled out each year, even if there are no changes. If there are changes in your teen's medication, dosage, etc, a new medication form will be needed. It's a good idea to get your teen a checkup to get a medication form filled out so that your teen will be ready the first day of school.

If your teen is not always at school because of class trips, vocational-technical training or work study, it will be important to find out how medication will be given if your teen is not at his or her main school. Certain medications, like those for diabetes or asthma, must be given during certain medical emergencies, so be sure school knows how important your child's medications are to his or her health.

It is your and your teen's responsibility to make sure that the school is aware of any medication changes and that the school has everything they need to assist your teen. An inhaler for asthma is no good if it is empty, and medication for ADHD can't be given if the bottle of pills is empty. Ask your provider for medication refills if needed, or an extra inhaler or other medical device if one is needed at school and at home.

By working with your provider and your teen's school, your child can have a healthy and happy school year.


Guideline Title: Guidelines for the Administration of Medication at School. American Academy of Pediatrics. July 18, 2009. http://www.guideline.gov/summary/summary.aspx?ss=15&doc_id=4249&nbr=3249

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