Privacy in school nurse's office

Specialties School


Specializes in Peds Homecare.

Need to ask you school nurses if there is any privacy in your office? My grandaughter just started kindergarten last week. She has beautiful long blonde hair that has never been cut in all of her 5 years. Well, I'm sure you guessed it, she got head lice. Last friday she had to be picked up from school. Son, his girlfriend, and grandaughter all live with me. Grandaughter's mom and I proceed to apply lice stuff from the store, pick forever,numerous loads of laundry, you know the drill. Anyhow, brought her to school, Monday, nope, Tuesday, nope, headed straight to Pediatricians office. He prescribed something stronger. By this time I'm at my wits end. So today I went in the school with grandaughter and her mommy, who by the way has done everything known to man to take care of her daughter. We get to the nurses office for GD to be checked, and it's a great big open room, door wide open, people walking by looking in, other children wandering in and out. Meantime my grandaughter is taken to "the Lamp" to be checked, which is in full view of all. Nurse is picking through her hair. I asked the nurse(who I have known for years, former co-worker), no privacy? She says I've worked her 7 years, never any different. Does your office have any privacy? Are school children not entitled to privacy? Please let me know if it is normal. Thanks. Oh and by the way, grandaughter allowed to stay in school today.

Specializes in OB/GYN, Peds, School Nurse, DD.

That's ridiculous! I have a very small clinic, the size of your bathroom, but I can provide privacy to my kids. I have a garden bench outside in the hall and the kids know that if the door is closed they can go to the front office or wait in the hall a few minutes. When my diabetics come in or my kids who need inhalers, they put a "Privacy Needed" sign on the door and the door is closed. THere is no reason that even they should have to prick their fingers or use their MDIs in front of everyone. My youngest Diabetic is 6yo and she will tell you in a second that she doesn't like people staring when she checks her sugar. I would NEVER do a head check in front of another student! I not only hang the sign, I LOCK THE DOOR. Many kids find that exam embarrassing. And of course, it goes without saying that any time I'm evaluating a child for abuse/neglect, that it's a completely private affair. I think you may have to go to the principal about this.

Kids absolutely have the right to privacy. In fact, if you can't provide privacy, how in the world can you maintain confidentiality?

Specializes in Peds Homecare.

Thanks for your reply. I just don't understand this. I spoke with the principal before we left, he didn't seem to care.

More privacy needs to be provided. Could be something as simple as a privacy screen or two. I would not "let it go". Since the principal did not seem to care, I would talk to the superintendent. I am surprised the nurse has tolerated this for so long!

Specializes in Med Office, Home Health, School Nurse.

My office is in the third grade hallway, so I'm completely away from the general hub-bub of the office and lobby area. All the doors in our school have a long magnetic strip that can moved to either block the locking part of the door so that even if it is closed, you can just push it open. You can also slide the magnet up and the door will lock. If one of my special needs kids is being changed, or I'm checking a head, or something like that my door is closed AND locked. Anyone who needs me can wait in the hall or come back later. If I'm out of my office, my door is closed and locked. I've walked in TOO many times to kiddos spinning around in my desk chair and learned really fast that letting them wait inside the clinic on me wasn't going to work!

I would definitely try to address the issue with the principal again, and if that doesn't do any good, I would speak to the superintendent or school board or something. That's a huge violation of privacy and it needs to be taken care of immediately.

Specializes in Peds Homecare.

I was hoping to get a few more replies. I wanted to print this out and show the principal, that this is not how school nurses deal with privacy issues. Please share. Thanks in advance.

I'm actually glad you posted this. Just this week I starting locking my door when a child needs privacy (nothin like talking to a child and another one is kicking my door!) and have been more sensitive to the privacy issue. The last thing I want to do is stigmatize a child because other kids saw him getting a lice exam. Age should not have anything to do with privacy.

I'm not in school nursing quite yet, but I know that in all fields of nursing, nurses are legally obligated to keep patient confidentiality. I'm quoting from a post I found on this school nursing forum on Jan. 28, 2006, "FERPA allows you to share information with anyone in the school who has a "legitimate educational interest" in the child, but only the amount of information needed to provide a safe environment and those aspects that affect learning. " If the other children saw someone checking a child's head (which they had no legitimate educational interest in knowing), it seems to me that confidentiality is being broken. Maybe the principal needs to realize there are laws which protect students from having information shared.

Specializes in school nursing.

This is a subject near and dear to me as I struggle with providing privacy everyday! I have a very small clinic with one cot right beside my desk. Staff members think that this is a common area and they come in at will to use my restroom, ask a child in there numerous questions, take a peek out my window in the parking lot (to see if our principal's car is in her spot), etc. However, I AM THE BAD GUY when I say something! I don't care, I'll be the bad guy to advocate for a child!

I have a colleague that has 2 entrances to her clinic, 1 that opens to the front office. Despite having huge red signs that say STOP, CLINIC ENTRANCE ONLY! We have seen entire classes walk through the area as a shortcut. No matter what this poor nurse says to her staff, it doesn't stop!

People, how would you like it if you were sitting in the exam room of your physician's office and people were continously walking through and listening to your conversation and watching your exam??????????? Kids deserve the same privacy!

Specializes in Community Health Nurse.

Being a school nurse does require some extra thought when it comes to privacy. We started out in a huge classroom that was made into a nurses office. We had no privacy so we bought screens to use. It worked great for exam purposes. We also have curtains that divide each cot, we could always just pull the curtain.

We have now been moved into a better format. A big main room where there are 2 cots (with curtains) and treatment cart as well as the LPN and her desk, then as the RN I have an office that looks in to her area and I have a cot with a curtain and the filing cabinets/med cabinets.

When kids need additional privacy or exam we use my office for that.

It is still very hard for other children to hear what is going on. I will shut my door if it is a lice check, a hygiene talk or something like that.

I would love to find out more about the DEFINITION of privacy and confidentiality. I work at a school that has a storage space in the back of my office. When we moved in the building administration determined the storage space could not be used as an office because it would violate privacy of students seen by the nurse. This year, under a new principal, it was determined that the storage space would serve as either speech therapy, special education, or social worker who all see their own students multiple times a day. I understand that this is a conflict in terms of privacy, but the argument from administration is that a privacy screen is sufficient enough to provide privacy. I can agree that it will provide some privacy, but will not stop students from hearing what is being said and all are entering and exiting from the same door. Does anyone have any knowledge of what is legally considered privacy under FERPA?

Specializes in Med-surg, school nursing..

When I check a child for lice I close the door and draw the blinds, I know how kids and even parents can spread rumors.

+ Add a Comment