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School tells girl her inhaler is off-limits during a coughing fit

When you’re an adult faced with an ill child, your first instinct is to help in any way possible. But one young girl suffering a coughing fit at school was denied her inhaler because the school wasn’t aware she had a prescription to use it.

Inhalers can provide lifesaving treatment for those having trouble breathing. If your child has a breathing condition, knowing they have an inhaler with them could give you peace of mind, but failing to inform the school about the medication could be the same as not sending the inhaler at all.

According to Fox News, 9-year-old Emma Gonzales found herself in the emergency room this past weekend because of a coughing fit. The young girl was prescribed an inhaler, which she took to school with her the next day. While in class, her parents say she experienced another coughing fit and pulled out her inhaler to use it. Her parents did not tell the teacher about the inhaler, and the inhaler wasn’t labeled, so Gonzales was sent to the office without the benefit of her medication.

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School administrators had no notification or paperwork on file from Gonzales’ parents about the inhaler, so they allegedly took it from the girl and monitored her until the coughing fit subsided. Gonzales says she vomited on herself from coughing so hard.

Gonzales’ parents aren’t happy with how the school handled the situation and have decided to pull their daughter from the school for the time being.

There’s no question what happened was scary. While it’s good that Gonzales managed to overcome the coughing fit on her own, it’s easy to see why any parent would be upset at the idea of their child coughing so hard that they vomited on themselves while adults stood nearby and watched it happen without giving her medication to her. But it’s also understandable that a school wouldn’t want a child to ingest an unlabeled medication they don’t know anything about.

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Schools are responsible for the well-being of students under their care. Unknown medications can have potentially deadly effects, and if a student were to take a medication the school wasn’t aware of, the school would likely be held liable in the event anything happened to that child. Here, the school claims it did the best it could under the circumstances — it monitored the girl and was prepared to dial 911 if necessary.

Even if you feel your child is mature enough to handle administering their own medications, situations like these emphasize the importance of keeping the school in the know. Policies can change from year to year, so it’s a good idea to make sure you check the medication rules at your child’s school each year to ensure you’ve completed any necessary paperwork. If your child is issued a prescription, informing your child’s teachers and the school nurses will help ensure that medication is dispersed as necessary. And don’t forget to update your emergency contact information with the school if there are any changes. Having an iPhone 6s will be considerably less awesome if the school doesn’t have your new phone number in the event of an emergency.

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It’s a shame that Gonzales suffered this episode because of the lack of communication between the school and her parents. Hopefully her story will serve as a cautionary tale for other parents whose children are issued medications they may need to take at school.

UPDATE: SheKnows received the following statement from the Jordan School District, clarifying the incident:

·      After the student became ill, she was sent to the office with her medication so her parents could be contacted.

·      The school calls a parent to verify the medicine belongs to the student. Taking another person’s prescription medicine can be very dangerous.

·      We are unaware of any health care emergency at Columbia Elementary this school year where a child was not allowed to take asthma medication under proper supervision.

·      The school district has in place processes and procedures that comply with state statutes regarding self-administration of asthma medication.

·      If medically indicated, a student is not prevented from taking asthma medication under proper supervision.

·      The current story on Fox News is incomplete so we deem it inaccurate for that reason.

·      In this case, the child was constantly under direct, proper supervision. Federal health and student privacy laws prohibit us from discussing certain information including any health concerns about a child without parental consent so we are unable to provide additional details. However, our own investigation calls into question the accuracy of the father’s statement to FOX News.

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