Asthma UK has warned that tens of thousands of asthma sufferers in the UK may be at risk, after research has revealed that the condition is being mis-managed on a wide scale.
The study suggests that proper management of asthma medication should in include:
- An annual review with a nurse or doctor;
- Use of no more than 12 reliever inhalers within a twelve month period (other medication is more suitable if a patient requires more than 12);
- Preventer inhalers must be prescribed alongside reliever inhalers.
This proper management is not being achieved.
Whilst the charity acknowledged there is no immediate danger to sufferers, the research has revealed that some medics are missing warnings when a patient’s asthma is dangerously out of control, and that often patients are prescribed either an inappropriate inhaler, or too many within a 12 month period.
The research is part of an audit which took place between 2010 and 2013; taking data from 500 GP practices across the country. It revealed that 5,000 patients had been prescribed more than 12 reliever inhalers in a year, despite it being widely known that patients should be started on alternative medication if their relieve inhaler use exceeds 12 per annum. Of those 5,000, nearly 2,000 had not had their asthma reviewed by a doctor or nurse over the course of the year.
Concerns regarding the over prescription and under management of asthma were already published a year ago by the National Review of Asthma Deaths. That report revealed that the UK has one of the highest asthma related mortality rates and hospital admission figures in the developed world, thought to be caused by poor management of the condition. Dr Levy, author of that paper said “We should be assessing and reviewing every patient and reviewing people every time they have an attack. A single review once a year is not acceptable”.
The Royal College of Nursing, the regulatory body of asthma nurses who generally monitor asthma patients, suggests that cut backs in asthma nurses may be a contributor to the problem. It said “The role of specialist nurses is vital in supporting better patient and professional education, but the number of specialist nursing posts that have been eroded in recent years is deeply concerning”.