School officials in Florida’s Volusia County School are insisting that a school nurse was perfectly correct in refusing to give a boy his inhaler during an asthma attack because a medical release form was not signed by a parent. By the time the mother arrived at the school, her son was passed out on the floor. She says that the nurse watched as her son, Michael Rudi, 17, collapsed.
The school dean found the inhaler in its original packaging with the student’s name and directions for its use. He seized the inhaler because of the absence of a form. When the boy began to have trouble breathing the mother was called to come into school. It is not clear why, if they could reach the mother, they could not get telephonic approval. More importantly, with the boy having breathing problems, the school insisted that it was still more important to get a form signed than help the child. Rudi is quoted as saying “[a]s soon as we opened up the door, we saw my son collapsing against the wall on the floor of the nurse’s office while she was standing in the window of the locked door looking down at my son, who was in full-blown asthma attack.”
Faced with this horrific situation, the Director of Student Health Services, Cheryl Selesky, still insists it was the parents’ fault for not being sure a new signed form was on file this year. There may have been a failure in supplying such a form, but that pales in comparison to the callous and irresponsible attitude to this teenager who was in obvious medical need. The school was previously made aware of the boy’s medical condition and yet stood there with an inhaler and an unsigned form in hand . . . but concluded the form was the more pressing matter.
It is also not clear why 911 was not called. The parents have filed child endangerment charges against the nurse. They also may want to consider a civil lawsuit against the school. Since the school appears primarily motivated by legal rather than medical considerations, a torts action may serve to concentrate the mind of officials.