HCN News & Notes

American Academy of Pediatrics Urges Schools to Be Prepared for Medical Emergencies

ITASCA, Ill. — Children and adults may face emergency medical situations because of injuries, complications of chronic health conditions, or unexpected major illnesses in schools, and institutions should be prepared to deal with a multitude of issues, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends in an updated policy statement.

The increase in the number of children with special healthcare needs and chronic medical conditions attending schools, along with the added challenges faced by school districts to ensure that schools have access to on-site, licensed healthcare professionals on an ongoing basis, are additional considerations that medical and non-medical personnel must face in dealing with medical emergencies in schools.

The newly updated policy statement, “Individual Medical Emergencies Occurring at School,” says schools need to be prepared to deal with medical, behavioral, and traumatic emergencies that students or staff may experience. It is estimated that 10% to 25% of childhood injuries occur while the child is in schools, and it is prudent for schools to prepare particularly for potential medical emergencies related to chronic conditions, such as seizures, diabetes, allergies/anaphylaxis, mental illness, substance use, or asthma, through personnel training and emergency action plans, the statement says.

Ideally, schools should develop emergency policies with input from the medical community, including emergency medical services personnel and community clinicians. These policies need to be flexible enough to accommodate different students’ developmental levels. Integration of EMS personnel into school emergency planning familiarizes them with the location and type of medical resources available at the school. This collaboration leads to the creation of policies and regulations that appropriately delegate authority, assign roles, distribute shared resources, and establish parameters for healthcare providers.