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School Unions Worried About Epilepsy Assistance Law

California’s two largest teachers unions can’t get behind a new state law that allows nonmedical school employees to administer a rectal injection to epileptic students having seizures.

Until now, only medical practitioners could administer such anti-seizure medication. But since many California schools and most San Francisco public schools don’t employ nurses every day, school employees have had to wait for paramedics when students have a seizure. The new law allows parents of epileptic students to request that their schools train at least one employee to administer Diastat, a rectal gel that treats seizures in people with epilepsy.

Advocates for people with epilepsy say the law is needed.

“This is huge,” said Michael Scott, director of the Epilepsy Foundation of Northern California. “In a life-threatening situation, many times it’s not possible to have a trained medical practitioner available.”

But the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers, which opposed the legislation, worry that the new law will result in school employees being pressured to administer the drug. They also complain that nothing in the law will shield them from litigation if the procedure goes wrong.

While the training is voluntary and the California Department of Education is required to publish guidelines, the law does not provide for extra funding.

That rankles the unions.

“Without proper funding, it is simply unrealistic to assume that unlicensed school employees will receive sufficient training,” association legislative advocate Toni Trigueiro wrote last fall in urging Gov. Jerry Brown to veto the bill.

Scott agreed that funding for training would be ideal, but he called the law “a great step forward” for epilepsy awareness.

Brain disorder

3M Americans with epilepsy
326,000 Kids under 15 who have epilepsy
40% People with epilepsy who continue to have seizures despite treatment
200,000 New cases of epilepsy diagnosed every year

Source: Epilepsy Foundation of America

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