State Sen. Greg McCortney has filed legislation to add school nurses or other designated employees to those who can administer life-saving opiate antagonists. Currently, state law includes first-responders, including emergency medical technicians, law enforcement and firefighters. Senate Bill 85 would amend that law to include school medical personnel or an employee designated by the school’s administration to be able to administer opiate antagonists, a treatment that can temporarily reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, allowing time to seek emergency medical care.
McCortney said the bill was a request from the State Department of Education.
“It’s a proven fact that opiate antagonists can save lives,” said McCortney, R-Ada. “We just want to be certain that if school employees should need to administer this medication, they have the same legal protections given to others under state law.”
McCortney said not all schools have a nurse on staff full-time, if at all, so the bill allows administrators to designate other staffers to administer the medication to a student showing signs of an overdose. Under SB 85, those designated would undergo training by the Department of Health, law enforcement or another appropriate entity to learn how to recognize overdose symptoms, how to perform basic resuscitation techniques and how to properly administer an opiate antagonist.
According to the State Department of Health, opioids are the most common class of drugs involved in overdose deaths in Oklahoma, with prescription drug overdoses killing more Oklahomans than car accidents. The Centers for Disease Control reports that nationally, opioids were involved in 47,600 overdose deaths in 2017.
The National Association of School Nurses endorses making opiate antagonists available for use in schools and the U.S. Surgeon General has encouraged the use of antagonists to prevent overdose deaths.
In recent years, the Oklahoma Legislature has passed several bills to curtail prescription drug abuse and take a more pro-active approach to fighting opioid abuse, addiction and prevent deaths.
“Last summer, I attended a national legislative conference on the opioid crisis, and I was very proud when one of the presenters pointed to the Oklahoma State Legislature as leading the nation in the laws we’ve passed to fight this epidemic,” McCortney said. “Senate Bill 85 will give us another important tool in this fight.”