Girl, 9, denied inhaler during coughing fit, per school district policy

Posted at 1:26 PM, Sep 30, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-30 13:26:00-04

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.