Child Denied Use of Inhaler During Coughing Fit at School

Emma Gonzales, 9, from West Jordan, Utah was at school when she began having a coughing fit. She knew what to do and she pulled out her inhaler. But for doing so, she was sent to the office, where the inhaler was taken away, reports Fox 13 News out of Salt Lake City. Emma’s family is understandably upset.

Emma’s coughing got so bad she threw up on herself. So why would the school take the inhaler away? Because the prescription wasn’t documented with the school, and did not have Emma’s name on it, Fox 13 reports. According to the report, this was because she had gone to the emergency room for her coughing over the weekend before the incident.

However, the school district’s Director of Communications Sandy Riesgraf told Fox 13 News that the staff at Columbia Elementary School did the right thing.

“We have to protect the children, we have to make sure that the medicine that they have brought to school is actually for them,” she told the news station. She also noted that they kept Emma in sight. She eventually did recover from the attack without use of the inhaler, the news station notes.

While Emma’s parents work to file the necessary papers with the school, they’ve pulled her out of school for her safety, Fox 13 reports – and I don’t blame them. While I understand the rules are in place for great reasons, it’s been reported that Emma’s dad was contacted while she was having the attack, so once she had thrown up, why wasn’t this enough evidence to allow the child to use her inhaler?

Commenters on the article note that since the attack happened on the first day after the weekend of her emergency room visit, the parents can’t totally be faulted for having not filing paperwork yet. But some disagree.

“The correct headline should be, ‘Parents charged with endangerment for not filing paperwork with school so that their daughter could use an inhaler during coughing fits,'” writes commenter Matt Michaelson.

On an ABC13 news story about this, Sudo Nym scrutinizes the school’s policy. “Keeping drugs away from kids is a safe policy but in this instance the teacher should have used common sense as this was an obvious asthma attack emergency,” the commenter notes. “That’s pretty pathetic when a teacher can’t put two and two together. This child could have gone into cardiac arrest. I could see under a different circumstance as the teacher seeing the girl use it when she was normally healthy … then take it away … but not in an emergency.

That school is very lucky that girl recuperated or they would be in big trouble.”

Tell us what you think! If this were your child, would you be furious, or understanding of the school policy?

Photo courtesy of Fox 13 News

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