9-year-old girl denied inhaler during coughing fit at school, per Jordan District policy

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WEST JORDAN, Utah -- A 9-year-old girl was denied her inhaler during a coughing fit at school in West Jordan because staff were not notified of the child’s prescription, Jordan School District officials said Monday.

Emma Gonzales obtained an inhaler over the weekend after a coughing fit landed her in the emergency room. On Monday, the fourth grader was hit with another coughing spell in class at Columbia Elementary.

When Emma took her inhaler out to use it, her teacher sent her to the office, where staff took the inhaler.

Emma said she started coughing so hard she threw up on her pants.

“When I get into the coughing fit, I kind of hurtle up on the ground, can't breathe and then I start to kind of feel a little nauseous,” Emma said.

District officials say the staff did everything right by taking the medication to make sure it was for that specific student.

The inhaler doesn’t have Emma’s name on it and the school had not been notified that she was taking the medication.

“There could be all sorts of problems if children were just allowed to take any medication and we didn't have that verification. Again, this is for the student's safety,” said district spokeswoman Sandy Riesgraf.

District policy is that parents must fill out paperwork regarding what their child is taking for medication so school administrators know about it. If proper paperwork is filled out, district policy allows children to administer medications to themselves.

Her parents say they understand the policy and will fill out the proper paperwork to make sure Emma can get her inhaler in the future. But her mother, Britney Badger said at the point her daughter started throwing up, she thinks the school needed to do more.

“When a child is puking all over themselves and they can't breathe, you know you kind of have to take action right then and there,” Badger said.

Emma never got her inhaler at school, but her coughing fit did end.

District officials say Emma was monitored the entire time and if they felt she was in serious danger, they would have called 911.

Emma’s father was contacted during the coughing fit. After Monday’s incident, he plans to keep his daughter out of school for the time being.


  • Need Air

    When my 8 year old son needed to carry an inhaler with him at all times the office secretary told me that I had to leave the inhaler with her and he would have to come to the office to use it. She said it was school policy that all meds have to stay in the office. I said that when he gets an asthma attack on the playground she better hope he has enough air in his lungs to make a trip to the office or the school district would have one hell of a law suit on their hands. She soon recognized the folly of her thinking and let him take it with him. At that time only the pharmacy label was required with the student’s medications but I got a Doctor’s note to be extra safe. The note stated that he was medically required to carry it with him at all times. I’m surprised these parents would not think to stop by the school office to let them know what’s going on, It’s common sense.

    • Ace

      I agree with most of what you say, but it’s not really common sense to need to notify the office, unless you realize that the school officials haven’t got the common sense to let a child take their medication.

  • Ace

    As an asmtha sufferer, the fact that school officials are so convinced that they did the right thing is mind-boggling to me. 1) If the student was in respiratory distress, and she pulls out an inhaler, why is the teacher’s first thought, “She didn’t clear that with me first. I have to prevent her taking that medication!” 2) Why does the administration continue on the same line, to the point that she pukes on her pants. How does one get so self-important? Do they teach administration seminars for this kind of behavior? 3) The district applauds the school administration for acting in this inhuman way, NEVER allowing her to use her own medication, then states they would have called 911 had it become dangerous. Respiratory distress IS dangerous, and could have taken a deadly turn, especially if she had inhaled while puking, 911 or no, and yet they denied her the medically prescribed solution that she held in her hand. Why do these “officials” feel so good about themselves every time they triumph over common sense.

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