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August 6, 2000

Blood Tests and Insulin Injections

Question from Long Island, New York, USA:

I am the mother of a an 8 year old boy who was diagnosed about 10 months ago. We are still trying to adjust and one of the things I did was change the camp I had worked in for several years because my son would have been forced to travel. At this new camp he stays on the grounds. The problem is at lunch he was testing himself at the lunch table and two administrators of the camp abruptly told my son to put his meter away. When I asked them if they knew what it was that he had to do, their response was “it’s not good for the other children to see.” I asked if they had any parental complaints and they said no. I then informed them that it was his legal right to test and they said, oh, if it’s legal, we guess its okay. The nursing area is on the other side of camp, so they suggested he go into a bathroom.

My question is does he have the legal right to test in a cafeteria at camp? Can he be denied the right to test anywhere? Please let us know this so that in future situations I know how to answer. I do not want my son to hide anything about diabetes, including testing. He is what he is and we are proud of him and want others not to think this is something you hide in shame for.


From: DTeam Staff

I don’t know the legality of the situation, but there are a few “practical” issues to consider:

You must find a way for your child to safely dispose of his lancets. Eight year old boys love to experiment and if another camper uses one of his lancets, the camp will be in a lot of trouble. They do have a legal obligation to protect other campers from exposure to his lancets.
Your child need not be embarrassed about blood sugar testing in public, but some people do get queasy at the sight of blood and may feel very uncomfortable watching your son test at the lunch table. Perhaps the camp could let him test in a clean area on the side of the lunch area before he sits down to eat. Friends who want to keep him company while he tests can watch, and those who get queasy at the site of blood need not feel uncomfortable while eating. He could also safely dispose of used lancets at this time.

You will help your son by not only being proud of him and telling him not to be embarrassed about his diabetes, but also by being honest with him and explaining to him that some people are uncomfortable watching blood testing and insulin injections, and that when possible he should try to be sensitive to their feelings too. Obviously, he should not compromise his care.

Additional comments from Dr. Stuart Brink:

Hurray for you. You are absolutely right. The camp administrators are absolutely wrong. There is no ban on testing blood glucose levels legally anywhere. Your attitude and the attitude you should instill in your son is that he should take care of his health in an appropriate fashion and never be embarrassed about his diabetes needs. However, it is reasonable to teach him to be aware of others and be sensitive to everyone who has concerns about blood, AIDS. His job should be — and your job should be — to teach the rest of the world how responsible blood glucose testing does not have other risks. So, hang in there, be firm with these camp administrators but help them to understand how caring for diabetes can be woven into regular daily life even at camp.

Additional comments from Dr. Larry Deeb:

I expect the camp is private and receives no US Department of Education or State Department of Education funds; if so, then they make the rules. The disability rules are really a result of public issues, at least as far as I understand.