Final regs issued on administration of anti-seizure medication at schools

Final emergency regulations governing the administration of anti-seizure medication to epileptic students by nonmedical school personnel have been posted by the California Department of Education.

The regulations, approved this month by the Office of Administrative Law, provide guidance on the implementation of Senate Bill 161, signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown last October.

The new law - enacted as Education Code section 49414.7 - allows local educational agencies to offer training and authorization for volunteer, non-medical school employees to provide assistance during specific emergencies when a school nurse or other medical personnel are not available and the assistance has been sanctioned by a parent's written approval.

The emergency regulations provide specific guidance regarding several issues, including:

- Conditions that must be met before emergency medication is administered to a student;

- Categories of health care professionals that may train and supervise volunteer nonmedical school personnel in the administration of anti-seizure medication;

- Detailed description of substantive content required to be included in volunteer training courses; and

- Instructions to health care professional trainers regarding oversight of volunteer nonmedical school personnel.

The voluntary program is limited to serving epileptic students suffering seizures. The law required the CDE, in consultation with the Department of Public Health, to develop guidelines for carrying out those services.

According to the CDE, more than 90,000 children statewide have epilepsy and are subject to seizures. The new regulations allow trained personnel to administer Diastat, a valium-based rectal gel, to a student undergoing an epileptic seizure if a school nurse is not available.

Diastat, a trademark administration system of diazepam (valium), is currently the only FDA-approved, at-home medication for the treatment of acute repetitive, or cluster," seizures. It is considered the fastest, safest and most effective way to treat epileptic seizures, the CDE has said.

SB 161, authored by Sen. Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar, was one of the more controversial education bills before the Legislature in recent years.

Proponents argued the bill would save lives at a time when only half of California school districts can afford an on-campus nurse.

But critics - which included the California Nurses Association and school employee groups - argued that the legislation unfairly coerces unlicensed school workers to perform a high-level medical procedure that could result in physical or psychological damage to the seizing student or the worker injecting the drug.

The legislation became law in January and guidelines for carrying out the training and the application must be available by July 1.

The emergency regulations will remain in effect until Sept. 25, 2012, at which time the CDE is required to establish permanent guidelines.

To read the emergency and proposed permanent rules, click on the links below or visit the CDE website at more