American Nurses Association v. Torlakson

On August 12, 2013, the California Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision in American Nurses Association v. Torlakson, a landmark case involving diabetes care in California public schools. The decision made it clear that state law is not an obstacle to children with diabetes receiving the proper care they need to be healthy and medically safe at school. The California Supreme Court agreed with plaintiffs’ interpretation of state law to allow school personnel, who are not nurses, to volunteer and be trained to help children with the insulin they need to survive and thrive at school.

The decision was a critical victory for the estimated 14,000 California schoolchildren with diabetes and their right to diabetes health related services in school and during school–sponsored activities. This case has implications for many people living with other chronic conditions and/or disabilities, including those that are age–related. People with disabilities’ ability to access services such as administering medication through attendants or other caregivers is integral to living independently in the community or receiving affordable residential care elsewhere. The question of who can provide what type of service is crucial to the people who need those services, and it is an issue that links a diabetes-related case with the broader disability rights community.

Reed Smith, LLP

Intervener and Appellant:
American Diabetes Association