Minnesota Guidelines for Medication Administration in Schools - May 2005

(Updated: September 2005)

Maternal and Child Health Section graphic of an outline of a parent with a child in the middle of the outline of Minnesota.


Minnesota Guidelines for Medication Administration in Schools- Talking Points, May 2005

The Minnesota Department of Health has just released the Minnesota Guidelines for Medication Administration in Schools.

Where are they located: you will find the full text at: www.health.state.mn.us/divs/cfh/shs/pubs/medadmin/

Workgroup participants: the guidelines were developed collaboratively by:

  • Minnesota Department of Education
  • Minnesota Department of Health
  • Minnesota Department of Human Services
  • Minnesota Board of Nursing
  • statewide multidisciplinary work group

Collaborative process:

  • A collaborative process from the beginning, the Medication Administration Guidelines State Interagency Staff Team was established with the above participants and met regularly to direct this project.
  • A listing of work group members is available within the document.

Audience: The guidelines are intended for school districts, school boards, principals, health educators, school nurses, health paraprofessionals, parents, and students themselves.

Goal: The goal of the guidelines is to increase the safe administration of medications to students in schools.

This is important for learning readiness:

  • Many children who have chronic and/or acute health conditions can attend school because of the effectiveness of their prescribed medications(s).
  • “About 13 million children in kindergarten through 12th grade take medication in any two-week time period, according to a study by Ann Maria McCarthy, an associate professor at the University of Iowa. Most common are AD/HD medications, followed by over-the-counter and asthma medications, respectively. In another study, looking at changes in medication in schools, McCarthy found that students were taking about 200 different kinds of medications in 2003, up from the 58 found in a late 1980s study” [1].
  • Student access to medication while at school, to appropriately treat illness, acute or chronic, enhances attendance and reduces a potential barrier to educational success.

What’s in the document: these are the guidelines for what needs to be in place for the safe administration of prescription and nonprescription medications in schools and they include the following:

  • What every parent and student in Minnesota can expect regarding safe administration of medications in schools.
  • Guiding principles and resources for school districts to consider when developing, reviewing and revising medication policies and procedures.
  • A safe and appropriate approach to administering medications to students for conditions such as asthma, diabetes, seizure conditions, allergies (food and environmental), cystic fibrosis, ADHD, short-term illness or infections, wherever they are in school or on field trips, etc.

Literature review:

  • A broad search and rigorous evaluation of pertinent literature was conducted for the Minnesota Guidelines for Medication Administration in Schools.
  • It included a review of standards and guidelines from numerous states.
  • While the guidelines are supported by evidence, every effort was also made to include expert opinion based on practice.

Historical background:

  • At the request of the 2001 Minnesota Legislature, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), in consultation with other partners, studied student health and safety in relation to administering medications in schools and how to address the changing health needs of students.
  • The “Report to the Minnesota Legislature: Medications Dispensed in Schools Study,” January 2002 recommended, among other initiatives, the design of a state system for safe administration of prescription and nonprescription medications in schools. www.health.state.mn.us/divs/cfh/shs/pubs/medreport/index.html
  • The Minnesota Guidelines for Medication Administration in Schools is the result of this recommendation.

Contact information:

Mariclaire England
Minnesota Board of Nursing
Phone: 612-617-2274
Email: mariclaire.england@state.mn.us

Ruth Ellen Luehr
Minnesota Department of Education
Phone: 651-582-8403
Email: ruthellen.luehr@state.mn.us

Colleen Olson
Minnesota Department of Human Services
Phone: 651-282-6648
Email: colleen.olson@state.mn.us

Cheryl Smoot
Minnesota Department of Health
Phone: 651-281-9961
Email: cheryl.smoot@state.mn.us



1. Vail, Kathleen. “The Medicated Child.” American School Board Journal, March 2005 Special Reports. http://www.asbj.com/specialreports/0305SpecialReports/S1.html