Saturday, August 15, 2009

Back to school shopping - the medical checklist

In some parts of the U.S. kids are back to school already. My older children return to school in just a few weeks. The stores are busy with all their back to school sales and we're all getting ready for the first day of school.

When you're getting your kids ready to return to school there may be some additional school supplies you'll need to shop for - updated prescriptions.

If your child has a prescribed medication that you provide to the school nurse this is a good time to review if your prescription is current and won't expire during the school year. If you provide epi-pens, asthma inhalers, nebulizers or other medications, read the packaging for expiration dates. If it will expire before the end of the school year take the extra time BEFORE school starts to refill the prescription. Three months from now when everyone is busy with school, sports and other extra curricular activities you may not remember to replace the expired epi-pen that you gave to the school nurse. Many schools will check expiration dates, but some may not. As the parent of the child needing this important medication it is your responsibility to provide a valid and non-expiring medication to the school.

In addition in some smaller communities your school may not have the services of a full-time school nurse. If child may need immediate medical intervention by the use of an epi-pen, fast acting inhaler or other device, make sure you speak with your child's classroom teacher. If they do not know how to assist your child offer to teach them or assist them in locating a First Aid Class to learn how. In addition you should make sure there is at least one other staff person in the school who can assist in case there is a day when both the school nurse and classroom teacher are absent.

Lastly when you deliver your child's medication to the school nurse make a point to sit down and speak with him/her about your child's medical history and how much information is shared. Typically schools leave the dissemination of medical information up to the discretion of the school nurse. Most health care professionals are very cautious about sharing too much information. However if your child has a fragile or emergent medical condition it is important for the school staff who interact with your child frequently to be aware of his or her condition so they can recognize when they need to provide assistance.

The back to school season can be busy, occasionally stressful and full of excitement. Plan ahead, check your medications, and conference with the school staff to make sure everyone is more than prepared for the first day of school.

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