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Diabetes and Schoolchildren: Could new California legislation end a turf war?

Diabetes and Schoolchildren: Could new California legislation end a turf war?

Picture of Barbara Feder Ostrov

A new proposed bill allowing school employees to provide insulin injections to schoolchildren with diabetes is worth watching as it makes its way through the California legislature. AB1802 was introduced Feb. 10 by Assemblyman Isadore Hall (D-Compton). Advocates for children with diabetes are rallying behind it.

Current California law allows school nurses and "other school personnel" to provide insulin to kids while in school, but legal challenges from unionized nurses have created a gray area that's spooking school administrators. (Here's a press release laying out the nurses' perspective). As a result, advocates say, it's difficult for these children to get the routine medical care they need while in school.  

Hall's bill, which may be heard in committee as early as March 13, would clarify the law and allow parents to designate a trained school employee (nurse or not) to administer injections to their children.

California Health Journalism Fellow Kelly Peterson is working on a story about this issue and has written about it on her member blog.

Here's what Dr. Fran Kaufman, a prominent expert on childhood diabetes and advisory board member for The California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowships, had to say about the proposed bill:

This effort will allow children to receive the necessary help so that they may effectively manage their diabetes at school and thereby increase their chances of  being healthy and well. With the shortage of school nurses and the pressures on the budget, and in light of the fact that every day hundreds of lay people are trained in diabetes management, allowing non-licensed trained school personnel to help children is the logical, safe and needed approach.

For more context on how children with diabetes in one California school without a school nurse, check out this definitive story from 2008 by Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez. And finally, don't forget to check out ReportingonHealth's useful resource guide and tips for reporting on diabetes.

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