Administering prescription medication

When a medical practitioner has prescribed medication that must be administered during the school day, parents/carers must:

  • notify the school
  • provide up to date information as required
  • supply the medication and any 'consumables' necessary for its administration in a timely way.

The administration of such medication forms part of the department's common law duty of care to take reasonable steps to keep students safe while they attend school.

The administration of prescribed medication in schools is carried out by staff who volunteer and who are trained. Except in an emergency, only individual staff members who have volunteered and been trained will administer prescribed medication to students. Training is available through the self-paced online course, ‘Administration of prescribed medication at school’ (e-APMAS).

Parents/carers of children who require prescribed medication to be administered at school must complete a written request (DOC 113.5 KB) Students must not carry medications unless there is a written agreement between the school and the student's parents/carers.

A letter will be provided to parents/carers from the Principal confirming arrangements for the administration of the student’s medication at school.

The principal must store all copies of the written medical advice and any other relevant documentation in a secure and confidential manner.

Self administration of prescribed medication by students

The common law duty of care does not extend to administering prescribed medication to students who are reasonably able to self administer.

However, the department must take reasonable steps to ensure that the self administration is carried out safely.

Emergency care

Schools do not generally supply or administer medications in an emergency unless they have been provided by parents as part of an individual health care plan for a specific student.

In an emergency which has not been anticipated in the emergency/response care section of an individual health care plan, staff will provide a general emergency response (for example, call an ambulance). Where an emergency response requires the immediate administration of medication to prevent serious illness or injury, staff should administer the required medication.

Non-prescribed medications

Schools generally don’t administer medication that hasn’t been requested for an individual student’s specific condition. In some cases the medical practitioner may not write a prescription for such medication because it may be available 'over the counter'. NSW Health advises that ‘over the counter’ medication may still be harmful and that schools should follow the same procedures for non-prescribed medications as for prescribed medications.

Legal liability

Should a student be injured or made ill as a result of the administration of prescribed medication or health care procedures by a member of staff, the staff member is protected by the legal principle of vicarious liability in relation to personal injury proceedings.

This means that unless the staff member has deliberately injured the student, or behaved with reckless disregard for the student's safety, the department will be liable for any injury caused by the negligence of the staff member.

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