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'Prescribing errors' behind avoidable asthma deaths

People with asthma prescribed the wrong kind of inhaler were behind a lot of preventable deaths, a leading health charity told Good Morning Britain.

Asthma UK's Kay Boycott said some sufferers were under-prescribed inhalers designed to prevent an attack, while too many reliever inhalers were given to patients.

"What we'll say is with an asthma attack, you'll need to start hours, days, weeks before, so if you have got hay fever, start taking your preventer before the hay fever season starts to prevent them."


NHS: Asthma stats a 'call to action'

Data showing two thirds of asthma deaths could have been prevented are a "are a call to action for commissioners, health professionals and patients," according to a health chief.

Professor Mike Morgan, NHS England's national clinical director for respiratory services, said:

Every patient should have a care plan which should be regularly reviewed and patients should be supported to manage their asthma, including effective inhaler technique and knowledge of their condition.

Treatment should adhere to clinical and prescribing guidelines.

In February last year, National Institute of Health and Care Excellence produced a set of quality standards which make it clear local commissioners should integrate services so that asthma sufferers receive a consistently high quality service from childhood to adulthood.

– Professor Mike Morgan

Reliever inhalers used 'excessively' before death

Many asthma patients who passed away from their condition were excessively using their reliever inhaler in the months leading up to their deaths, a study has found.

The Royal College of Physicians said the heavy use suggested they were not managing their condition well.

They also found:

  • Medics should have spotted that they were repeatedly prescribing these inhalers and taken action.
  • Meanwhile one in 10 of those who died had been admitted to hospital for an acute asthma attack within four weeks of their death.
  • The report found that 45% of those people who died following an asthma failed to call for help or obtain help during their attack and the vast majority of children died even before they reached hospital.

Poor care leading to 'needless' Asthma deaths

Asthma patients are dying needlessly because of poor care, a scathing report has found.

The RCP examined 195 asthma deaths, including 28 children. Credit: PA

The Royal College of Physicians said there were "major avoidable factors" in around two thirds of the asthma deaths they examined.

Experts pointed to poor information, education and advice given to patients on how to manage their condition as to reasons behind avoidable asthma deaths.

These factors are leading to a large number of deaths which could otherwise have been prevented, the report says.

In the UK, three people die from asthma every day and every 10 seconds someone suffers from a potentially life-threatening attack.

Ed Davey whips out inhaler during energy questions

Ed Davey showed MPs he was among those suffering the effects of "very high" air pollution levels during Energy Secretary's Questions today.

The Energy Secretary whipped out his blue inhaler following a question on pollution, saying, "I'm sorry he is suffering, I can show him that I am suffering too".

He went on to say, "Air pollution is a very serious issue ... we take it very seriously."


Advice for asthma sufferers as pollution levels rise

Asthma UK has issued advice for sufferers as pollution levels are set to hit "high" and "very high" levels in parts of the country.

The charity urges asthma sufferers to check the air pollution forecast for their area on the Defra website and if levels are high:

  • Avoid strenuous exercise outside
  • Avoid visiting congested areas, particularly in the afternoon
  • Keep on top of asthma symptoms with an asthma action plan
  • Have your reliever inhaler with you at all times

If you think that you may be having an asthma attack, take one to two puffs of your reliever inhaler (usually blue), immediately.

Sit down and try to take slow, steady breaths - if you do not feel any better, take another two puffs of the reliever inhaler every two minutes, up to ten puffs.

Warning over asthma risk in premature babies

Researcher found that the risk of developing asthmatic symptoms was the same for both pre-school and school-age children.

Study leader Dr Jasper Been, from the University of Edinburgh's Centre for Population Health Sciences, said:

Doctors and parents need to be aware of the increased risks of asthma in premature babies, in order to make early diagnosis and intervention possible.

By changing the way we monitor and treat children born preterm, we hope to decrease the future risks of serious breathing problems, including asthma.

Our findings should help find better ways to prevent and treat asthma and asthma-like symptoms in those born pre-term.

The researchers studied data on around 1.5 million children pooled from 30 studies from six continents. Four of the research papers were from the UK.

Asthma rates 'rose to 14% in babies born prematurely'

Scientists say that with increasing numbers of babies surviving premature birth, childhood asthma is set to become a significant health problem.

The research showed that average asthma rates rose to 14% in babies born prematurely, defined as at least three weeks early.

Those born more than three weeks before the usual 40-week pregnancy term were almost 50% more likely than full-term babies to develop asthma. And babies born more than two months early were three times more at risk.

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