Court Sides With California Nurses, Rules That Only They Can Give Insulin Shots to Diabetic Kids

A Superior Court judge in Sacramento has overturned a 2007 ruling that allowed trained school staff, not just registered nurses, to administer insulin shots to children with diabetes. The ruling affects approximately 14,000 California school children. 

Several nursing groups, including the California School Nurses Organization, the American Nurses Association, and the California Nurses Association, had brought suit against a 2007 directive by the California Department of Education (CDE) that allowed unlicensed school staff members to administer insulin shots if a parent or nurse were not available.

The CDE had issued the directive after settling a 2005 class-action lawsuit lodged by parents of children with diabetes and the American Diabetes Association. 

In that suit, the plaintiffs alleged that because of a shortage of nurses in the state’s public schools, many parents were forced to miss work or keep their children out of school in order to give them shots.

Only approximately 2,800 nurses are available for the state’s 9,800 public schools.

The suit alleged that forcing parents and children into inconvenient injection schedules violated federal law by denying children the level of care mandated for children with disabilities.

But nurses protested that the directive violated state laws that forbid the administration of injections by anyone other than trained nurses. 

Superior Court Judge Lloyd Connelly agreed, voiding the agreement reached between the CDE and ADA last year.

Although nurses are now the only ones permitted to inject schoolchildren with insulin, there are three exceptions:

  1. When students are qualified to administer injections to themselves.
  2. When a parent or a person designated by a parent (who is not a school district employee) administers the injection.
  3. When there is an epidemic or public disaster that affects the availability of nurses.

Editor’s note: Diabetes Health will continue to monitor this topic. The ruling leaves it up to the state’s school districts to find money to hire the nurses necessary to administer insulin at convenient times during the school day. We know the ruling is a huge burden on parents in California. How has the ruling affected you and your family? Please let us know by posting your comments below.