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Avoiding Child Mishaps with Medications in School

Dr. Jeff Harp with Highland Family Medicine discusses ways to keep your child's medications on track during school hours.
Many children will be taking medications when they return to school this coming week. Some of those medications, such as antibiotics, are being taken for only a few days, while some of them, such as medications for attention deficit disorder, seizures or asthma, will be given throughout the school year. In either case, Dr. Jeff Harp of Highland Family Medicine said it is important to ensure that children receive prescribed medications without interruption. That may mean that the medication must be given at school. If your child has received medications at school before, this will be old news. However, if your child is newly on medication, it may feel a bit complicated.

Dr. Harp suggested the following tips:

Usually, the school nurse supervises medication administration.

Schools require written authorization to give medications. All require the signature of a health care provider. Many also require the parents to sign the authorization form. You will need to ask your health care provider to complete the form on behalf of your child. Many schools also require that medications are brought to the school in their original container. That may mean that you need to request two prescriptions from your care provider, one for school use and one for home use.

Many medications, especially medications which are prescribed for a short time, like antibiotics, can be dosed 3 times a day so that they can be given before and after school and at bedtime. When your health care provider is writing a prescription, ask whether school hours can be avoided. Some medications, like those used to treat attention deficit disorder, have long-acting preparations so that children can take the medication before leaving home and still have it remain effective throughout the school day. Again, ask your health care provider about this.

Finally, call your child's school and ask to speak to the school nurse. Before making the call, make sure that you have the prescription information available to discuss with the nurse. He or she will give you guidance about the school's regulations and will tell you what you need to do to make sure that your child receives medications as prescribed.

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