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.
279 thoughts on “School Nurse Reportedly Refuses To Allow Student To Use Inhaler During Asthma Attack Because He Did Not Have Signed Parental Form”
Lillian and Katherine, had the child not received the inhaler and 911 had not been called, then she would have both lost her job, license and a child’s life. I am also a nurse and understand that we have rules for a reason. If you remember though, we also have the right to give emergency care in times when a life is in danger without a consent.
Lillian is right. We nurses are told over and over not to give anything without an order from a physician. It is a lawsuit waiting to happen. If a child brings an inhaler to school without a parent’s signed consent and a written doctor’s order, I WILL UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES GIVE THAT INHALER! I will try to get the parent, though that is not always possible and sometimes when you do reach them, they don’t want to stop work and come to the school. My policy is no order, no med. If parents won’t come get their ill children, 911 gets called. Deal with it! I worked too hard for my license and i’m no losing it for anyone.
The school nurse might be regarded as wicked and unprofessional but think about the parents that places financial gain above their children. Thanks to my professional colleague that I still have my license. On a cold winter day , I had a student ( known asthmatic) in full asthmatic attack with a previous school year form but current year . I called 911 , called mother and informed the principal. While waiting , student’s breathing pattern changed and panic set in. I was afraid he would not make it. I gave him two treatment from the school stock . EMS arrived thirty minutes later,gave the student another treatment and transferred him to the nearest hospital. Mother did not show up but called hours later and was informed that student was admitted and in the hospital. The next day, mom was in the school, requested a conference and threatened to sue the nurse and the school. Why? “She gave my son the school stock inhaler”. The system did not back me , I was left to defend myself. The mother was not thankful that the student survived and she did not consider herself negligent in her responsibility as a parent. So , blame the parent and the system not the nurse .
This whole county is behind the times. it is a redneck county.
I am from New York.
Anyone jealous enough to make rude comment can just keep on believing the south is educated.
The south is backwards.
His parents should secure legal counsel for the emotional damage and impact this experience had on this student.
States enact laws to stock epinephrine at schools (and have trained folk to administer it)
I am a school Nurse in MA. Although legally I too am required to have a doctor and parents sign off on all meds given, in an emergency such as this I would not hesitate to give it! However, I make sure the first week of school that I have all necessary documents and seek them out if any are missing, explaining the importance. And to protect the student and myself document every conversation regarding this topic.
The problem here is this: In Florida, a school nurse doesnt have to be an actual nurse. They do hire Registered and Licensed practical nurses but they also hire people who arent nurses but have some type of basic traiining to become Health assistants. Back in my home state NJ, you HAVE to be a nurse to work in a school system. There are things you come into contact with that a skilled professional should handle and not someone with BASIC training. Although anyone and everyone knows that if someone looks in distress, CALL 911. But this particular school nurse could have not thought that it was serious enough. Thats why only a NURSE should be in schools to know and make that judgment. You know? I am an LPN and work for the school system here in Florida. I must say, Florida schools have tons of policies and are in fact very strict about medication. My first thing would of been to call 911 and would of done everything I could to help this child. Asthma is nothing to play around with and I am completely saddened at the fact that this child had to experience that.
I am a school nurse in the state of Mississippi. The State Board of Nursing in my state forbids me to give any medications without written parent consent and a written doctor’s order. I can lose my license for doing so. Now who’s crazy???? I don’t know the entire situation that occurred here and unless we do, we can’t judge her. I have been a nurse for over 25 years and a school nurse for going on six. There are always situations that come up in the school system that aren’t cut and dried. Don’t judge until you know all the facts. I have 25 students right now at my school who have asthma. I sent home health forms at the beginning of the school year because I need to know who has asthma and who requires inhalers. The number is huge!!! There is one of me. All I ask parents is get the form signed and get it to the nurse! I can’t call every single parent of every one of these kids who have asthma in a short time. This takes days and days because believe it or not, I have 900 kids in my district and there are diabetics, kids with seizures and it goes on and on. You have no idea! The only issue I take with what happened in this story and again I don’t know everyone’s side–just what the Media says–is that if I have a child gasping for air and no written consent to give meds, I would call 911. But let me say this. Parents have a responsibility too. If this is not true then these stupid laws need to be changed and nurse’s need to be allowed to make decisions without parental consent and doctor’s orders. No nurse is going to give a medication when there is no written consent from the parent because this is considered battery. Hello!!!!! She will find herself in court if she does. You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. That, my friend, is why you probably won’t have a nurse to take care of you by the year 2020 because no one want’s to put themselves in that position. The law is stupid to start out with and attorneys need to have to do what nurse’s do for just one day!!!!! They would last about 2 minutes.
What a horrific state of affairs. It seems that following norms and rules like common herd has let us go bankrupt with least common sense.
FYI, I’m a school nurse. I would have not allowed this student to return to school without the proper documentation signed and in my hands. This would never have happened if this student had been excluded from school until and unless the proper forms were signed and in my hands.
The only other possible solution would have been to let another adult give the inhaler so the nurse isn’t responsible for giving a medication without an order. If no one else was available nurses, just like any other citizen, are protected with the good samaritan law just for cases like this.
You wouldn’t believe how difficult it is to get parents to return proper documentation for life threatening illnesses! But once you threaten that their little one will be kept from school until they comply, they step right up and do what is needed.
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