Liability Concerns Are Preventing Schools From Stocking Albuterol

By Tamara Thomas - Last Updated: February 6, 2023

Stakeholders in some US schools, especially in states like Illinois, avoid stocking life-saving albuterol asthma inhalers due to liability concerns, according to a poster presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Annual Scientific Meeting.

However, according to the researchers, these liability concerns are outweighed by legislative language that protects these stakeholders while making it harder for children who may need inhalers the most to access them.

“Stock inhaler laws improve access to asthma reliever inhaler medications in schools for children who experience respiratory symptoms,” said study author Dr. Andrea Pappalardo, an assistant professor of medicine and pediatrics at the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Chicago.

“This simple policy solution allows for a fail-safe method to having medicine when a child needs it readily available and is critical to keeping our children in class where they belong,” Dr. Pappalardo added.

According to the Allergy & Asthma Network, 16 states (Arizona, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and Virginia) currently have laws or guidelines in place that aim to increase access to timely asthma treatment for children while at school.

Despite the law stating that if stock albuterol is administered “in good faith,” there is no risk of a lawsuit, it is insufficient to assuage school administrators’ concerns about litigation action.

When researchers interviewed 20 nurses, clinicians, and school administrators in Illinois, 35% said it was difficult to obtain prescriptions for stock inhalers. However, fear of being sued was cited as the primary reason for being unable to obtain prescriptions.

Researchers said that given how strong the legislative language is, these worries about liability are exaggerated. The researchers have also called for more education for providers and insurers to address these issues.

“We need more education that enhances provider and pharmacist knowledge and comfort in prescribing stock medications, like asthma stock reliever inhalers, to schools,” she said. “We also need to consider additional regulation and education of malpractice insurers to address potential liability concerns.”

The benefits of strong stock albuterol laws dramatically outweigh any risks, added Dr. Angela Duff Hogan, a professor of pediatrics at the Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk.

School administrators might be worried about being sued if they use it when a kid doesn’t need it or the child has side effects, but these inhalers are safe, Hogan continued. “With multiple puffs, kids may be jittery or shaky, but they are very safe,” she said.

Source: US News

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