Irving Independent School District v. Tatro Page 2

Irving Independent School District v. Tatro general information

Media for Irving Independent School District v. Tatro

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 16, 1984 in Irving Independent School District v. Tatro

James W. Deatherage:

I have no personal knowledge of that, Justice Blackmun.

She may be.

I know it was one of the... it has been and always has been one of the goals for Amber through occupational therapy and other specialized instruction to... where she can ultimately do that.

Whether or not Friday at school she was able to take care of herself, I have no personal knowledge.

Let me get back to Justice O'Connor's question, because it was going to be mine if she hadn't asked it, and I'm not sure of your answer.

Suppose this were a prescription drug, and it was just a question of the... someone in the school digging it out every four hours and handing it to Amber.

You would say this was not medical treatment.

James W. Deatherage:

Under Texas law, Justice Blackmun, I don't think so.

I don't believe so.

There is a distinction.

When the doctor writes a prescription for medication, he writes the prescription directed to the pharmacist to fill this prescription.

He does not direct that prescription to the public school employee and does not delegate to the public school employee the administering of that pill.

That's dedicated to the... the prescription is written to the pharmacy.

The parent may choose to bring the medicine in its original container, under the state statute, and in writing authorize the school employee to give out of that original container that medication in accordance with the label on... on the container.

But in that instance, you see, the employee of the school is making no judgments, forming no judgments, is not exercising any medical judgment in merely removing the capsule and giving it to the student with the consent of the parent, because the prescription is not directed to the school employee.

May I ask a follow up on that question?

Your reply brief has the statute about the immunity from liability if they follow that procedure.

Is it your suggestion that until that statute was passed, it would have been a violation of law for that procedure to have been followed?

James W. Deatherage:

The public school employee at that time was subjected individually to claims for damages--

I understand.

Had no immunity from liability.

But assume that there was no negligence, and all the employee did, they didn't follow... there's no statute to protect them... but could not the employee have performed the procedure without doing anything unlawful?

Just without immunity is all.

James W. Deatherage:

--That was... yes.

They've done it for years.

But there's no immunity issue in this case, is there?

James W. Deatherage:

No, Justice Stevens, there's not.

Under the Texas Medical Practice Act, the district court found a physician may prescribe medical treatment and delegate its performance to a nonlicensed person or institution that he deems qualified subject to control, supervision and adequate monitoring by the physician; that the physician may prescribe the medical treatment to be furnished by the public school if he believes the school has personnel qualified to perform it.

The school employee was found... or the school was found to employ professional nurses that with sufficient training, the court found, the school's nurses are capable of performing the medical treatment, and that when the medical treatment is performed by such nurses in accordance with a valid doctor's prescription, it would not constitute the unlawful practice of medicine.

Until that occurs, the court had found, relying on an amicus brief of the Texas Medical Association attached to its memorandum opinion... opinions, that if the school had provided catheterization without a doctor's prescription valid under Texas law, it would have unlawfully been practicing medicine.