Issues of medication administration and control in Iowa schools

Document Type


Peer Reviewed


Publication Date


NLM Title Abbreviation

J Sch Health

Journal/Book/Conference Title

The Journal of school health

PubMed ID


DOI of Published Version


Start Page


End Page



Who is responsible for medication administration at school? To answer this question, a descriptive, self-administered survey was mailed to a random sample of 850 school principals in Iowa. The eight-page, 57-item, anonymous survey was mailed first class, and a follow-up reminder post card was mailed two weeks later. Descriptive analyses were conducted, with type of respondent (principal versus school nurse), grade level, and size of school examined to explore differences. A 46.6% response rate was obtained; 97% of respondents indicated their schools had written guidelines for medication administration. Principals (41%) and school nurses (34%) reported that they have the ultimate legal responsibility for medication administration. Policies for medication administration on field trips were available in schools of 73.6% of respondents. High schools were more likely to allow self-medication than other grade levels. "Missed dose" was the most common medication error. The main reasons contributing to medication administration errors included poor communication among school, family, and healthcare providers, and the increased number of students on medication. It remains unclear who holds ultimate responsibility for medication administration in schools. Written policies typically exist for medication administration at school, but not field trips. Communicating medication changes to schools, and ensuring medications are available at school, likely can reduce medication administration errors.


Administrative Personnel, Adolescent, Child, Cross-Sectional Studies, Drug Administration Schedule, Female, Guidelines as Topic, Health Care Surveys, Humans, Iowa, Male, Medication Errors/prevention & control, Medication Systems/standards, Organizational Policy, School Nursing, Schools/standards/statistics & numerical data, Self Administration/statistics & numerical data, Theft/prevention & control

Published Article/Book Citation

The Journal of school health, 73:9 (2003) pp.331-337.

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