Girl denied inhaler during coughing fit at school

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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, KSTU reports.

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.


  • Selenia

    This happened to my son during his elementary years. I got fed up with the stupid clerical staff at the school. Not to mention, the nurse was the only one with the authority to give my son the inhalor as needed. The problem was that THAT nurse was only ONCE a week at the school. He had an inhalor at the office. So I gave my son an extra inhalor and tough hin that if he started to feel the symptoms like wheezing, to go to the bathroom or hide and use the inhalor. He survive elementary school with no problems. He grew out of the asthma by middle school.

    • Selenia

      Oh and by the way, my son is half Mexican and half French. Born in San Diego CA. ,us his parents are USA Citizens as well.

  • Pam

    This isn’t the Schools fault it’s the Parents for not notifying School to minister to her when needed. Lazy parents! my daughter was on medications and I gave school permission to give her afternoon doses was my responsibility to make sure they had a enough all week what is wrong with parents today?

  • Joe Cook

    If this student coughed hard enough to cause her to vomit then THAT alone is a reason to call 911. When a school nurse sees a child they need to understand they are not a substitute for medical evaluation by an MD and act accordingly.

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