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AAP Updates Guidance on Medication Administration in School

Keeping students healthy and in school is key to their successful development and growth. Toward that end, it's essential for students who rely on medication during the school day to receive it in a safe, private and easily accessible manner.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) provides recommendations for school physicians, community prescribers, school nurses, and other school health professionals in an updated document, "Safe Administration of Medication in School: Policy Statement," published in June 2024 Pediatrics.

The AAP policy statement underscores why well-planned medication administration systems are also an equity issue, as students with less access to appropriate medical care or treatment are more likely to miss school and experience poor health and academic outcomes.

"The overriding goal of medication administration in any setting must be patient safety," said Mary Beth Miotto, MD, MPH, FAAP, a lead author of the policy statement. "Every member of the school health care team should be involved in developing the safe process and administration of medications, and communication among them is key."

The policy statement, written by the AAP Council on School Health and the National Association of School Nurses, discusses the importance of navigating local, state and federal laws. The statement also observes the evolving role of emerging therapeutic substances, including cannabis, its constituents, and derivatives that have posed ethical challenges in the field of school health. School health teams are encouraged to develop and implement policies for these substances using the same rigorous safety lens applied to all school-based medications, requiring storage, sign-out, and tracking of medications by the school nurse.

The AAP recommendations for prescribing pediatric health care professionals include:

  • Consider risks and benefits of school medication administration before sending an order to school: ideal and feasible dosing intervals, the family's ability to administer required medications in the home before or after school, and potential adverse medication effects.

  • To ensure patient safety, communicate timely updates to patients' school health office with new orders when dosage, frequency, or other medication administration details change or when medications are added or discontinued.

  • Understand local school health staffing when writing orders and collaborating on medication management, particularly for students with chronic medical conditions.

  • Understand state and local laws governing medication administration in schools.

The AAP also provides recommendations for public advocacy, such as improving the coordination of health programs between home, medical home, school health and school-based health centers.

Advocacy should address school health funding for adequate staffing, supplies and stock medication in all schools.

"Parents and guardians play an integral role in their child's medical team and ensuring safety when it comes to administering medications," Dr. Miotto said. "We encourage families to talk with their pediatrician about ways they can collaborate with their child's school staff on any prescription needs, changes or questions."

Policy statements and technical reports created by AAP are written by medical experts, reflect the latest evidence in the field, and go through several rounds of peer review before being approved by the AAP Board of Directors and published in Pediatrics.

More information

5/28/2024 12:00 AM
American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright @ 2024)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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