WASB testified in support of Special Session Assembly Bill 1 authored by State Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette) which would permit and provide protection from civil liability for school personnel to administer an opioid antidote like Narcan to a pupil or other person who appears to be experiencing an opioid overdose.
The WASB suggested this bill to provide clarity to districts and it was included in Rep. Nygren’s Heroin, Opiate, Prevention, and Education (HOPE) Agenda bills scheduled to be taken up in a special session of the legislature. The bill was heard by the Assembly Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety, chaired by Rep. John Spiros (R-Marshfield). Watch on Wisconsin Eye.
The American Medical Association and others promote increasing access to opioid antidotes as a key pillar of combating opioid abuse. To further encourage saving lives, the AMA believes that a person who provides assistance to someone experiencing an overdose—as well as the person who overdosed—should not have to fear arrest, prosecution or other civil or criminal repercussions. Thanks to Rep. Nygren and the HOPE Agenda bills passed last session, Wisconsin has an access law as well as an overdose Good Samaritan law. This bill would extend liability protections to school personnel in administering an opioid antidote to pupils and others in a school setting.
Why this bill is necessary:
WASB attorneys interpret the requirements of the administration of drugs to pupils law (118.29) to likely serve as a barrier to direct reliance on Wisconsin’s opioid antidote access laws (441.18 and 448.037) when it comes to school employee administration of an opiate antidote to students.
Stated another way, just because school personnel have a means of obtaining the drug doesn’t necessarily mean that the drug can be administered to a pupil under the liability protections offered by current law without satisfying all of the requirements including, for example, (1) the school district to receive a pharmacy-labeled package that specifies the name of the pupil, and (2) a requirement for the school district to have the written permission of a parent or guardian to administer the medication. There are two express exemptions to these requirements: (1) epinephrine (EPIPEN), for severe allergic reactions, and (2) glucagon for low blood sugar diabetic emergencies.
Special Session Assembly Bill 1 provides clarity based on the statutory precedent that was set for epinephrine and for glucagon in current law. While we are unaware of an opioid overdose occurring in a school setting, we feel this bill is a sensible, proactive measure that fits into the strategies promoted in the HOPE Agenda and other efforts to combat opioid abuse.