Lawsuit: Young girl dies because no school nurse was on duty

Lawsuit: Young girl dies because no school nurse was on duty

In this day and age, it is simply inexcusable for a child to die of a highly treatable medical condition while in the care of school personnel. Sadly, this kind of tragedy continues to occur, often caused by negligent staff members and schools with too many students and too few resources.

These are some of the allegations contained in a wrongful deathlawsuit filed by the parents of a 12-year-old girl who died nearly a year ago. According to the lawsuit, the girl had an asthma attack that was not addressed by school personnel because district-wide budget cuts meant that there was no school nurse on duty that day.

Philadelphia, where the incident occurred, has the eighth-largest school district in the entire country. But steep budget cuts throughout the first half of 2013 caused significant downsizing, including reducing the nursing staff from 289 employees to just 179 – not nearly enough to handle the medical problems of some 131,000 students.

On a day in late September, the girl suffered an asthma attack and reported it to school officials. There was no nurse on duty that day, and no staff members would give the girl her inhaler because school policy states that students are “not permitted to possess or use prescribed medication at the school without the proper supervision of a nurse.”

Even if that was the case, the school could have called for emergency medical help on the girl’s behalf. However, that was never done, and the girl was forced to stay at school for the remainder of the day. When she arrived home, her parents rushed her to the hospital but she died on the way. Her cause of death was cardiac arrest triggered by “acute exacerbation of asthma.”

Some parents feel wary about leaving their children in the care of school personnel, and cases like this suggest that fear may be warranted. Schools may have to cut budgets when times are tight, but these cuts should never be allowed to jeopardize the health and safety of students.

Source: Courthouse News Service, “ School Nurses Laid Off, and a Child Dies,” Andrew Thompson, Sept. 3, 2014

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