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School Nurse Seizure Action Plans

February 2, 2021
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WRITTEN BY Dr. Joshua Mueller

Epilepsy is the most common brain disorder worldwide. It can cause sudden seizures that range from mild to severe and life-threatening. Due to this variation, people with epilepsy will require different medications and treatments in response to their seizures. Approximately 470,000 children have epilepsy in the United States, and children make up about 25% of people with epilepsy worldwide. Students with epilepsy who experience seizures while at school can often be treated onsite and recover, but they may still be at risk of health complications and academic achievement deficits if they experience serious seizures that are not treated properly. SB 187, known as “Will’s Law”, would require school nurses in Missouri to construct a seizure action plan for children who have epilepsy or other seizure disorders in consultation with parents. These plans contain individualized procedural guidelines for seizure treatment. This bill would also require that notice be given to school employees who interact with students with seizure disorders, and that they be trained every two years in seizure disorder response with a curriculum approved by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. SB 187 would also protect school employees from being held liable for good faith acts in responding to seizures. As of 2020, five states have passed similar legislation (KY, IN, TX, IL, NJ).

Highlights

  • Students with epilepsy or other seizure disorders face potential health risks in a school setting and are at risk of learning loss.
  • Correct administration of a seizure rescue medication can prevent the need for emergency medical services and missed schooling.
  • Survey data indicates that existing training for school nurses increases confidence in their ability to diagnose and respond to seizures.

Limitations

  • It is difficult to measure the effectiveness of seizure action plans at a large scale due to a lack of data availability and reporting. Small-scale studies suggest that seizure action plans do not reduce the overall number of doctor’s visits and medication use, but the effect on health outcomes is unclear.
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