New law a victory for epileptic students

New law a victory for epileptic students
A child being given the nasal spray medication midazolam. Courtesy Seattle Children's Hospital.

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Tri-Cities mother Heather Franklin was in Olympia this afternoon to see Gov. Jay Inslee sign a bill into law which will allow someone besides a school nurse to administer potentially life-saving nasal spray medications to students.

“It’s been an exciting adventure for us,” Franklin said. “It’s going to make a huge difference for students.”

Nasal spray medications are prescribed to many epileptic children like Franklin’s son to stop seizures. But, many schools, such as the one Franklin’s son attends, don’t have full-time nurses, leaving students in need of nasal spray in jeopardy.

Franklin shared her story with Rep. Brad Klippert, who sponsored House Bill 1541. The legislation allows school employees or other parent-designated adults to administer all types of nasal sprays if a nurse is not present.

“I wish that we had the funding available that we could have a nurse full time in every school,” Klippert said. “Unfortunately we don’t so we have to take the necessary steps to still ensure our children get the medications they need, even if a registered nurse is not there.”

Under the new law, those who deliver nasal sprays may be required to be trained and supervised by the school nurse or other healthcare providers and must submit a letter detailing their willingness to give the medications. They are also required to call 911 after giving a child the drug.

Franklin brought her 8-year-old daughter to Olympia to demonstrate just how easy it is to administer nasal spray medications. Still, the Senate amended the legislation to include the stricter administration requirements.

“I think we went a little overboard,” Klippert said. “I want children to get the medications they need when they need it, and I don’t want those who volunteer to do it to have to jump through too many hoops.”

Schools are not required to designate someone besides a nurse to give these medications, but Franklin hopes more nurses will try to train someone to deliver the medications if they are not around.

“It’s the beginning of a lot of education for nurses and school personnel,” Franklin said. “We have many students who can benefit from it.”