New asthma action plan may be a breath of fresh air

Coughing, wheezing and difficulty breathing are hallmarks of an asthma-attack. According to Dr. Francisco Noya, head of the Asthma Department at The Montreal Children’s Hospital (MCH) of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC), asthma-attacks account for six per cent of Emergency Department visits.
 
The key to preventing these attacks and hospital visits is the regular use of “controller” asthma medication, usually in the form of inhaled corticosteroids. New research findings, conducted at the MCH, show that a unique written treatment action plan goes a long way to keeping these children out of the Emergency Department.
 
This written action plan, a one-page document designed for use in the Emergency Room, doubles as a prescription for the pharmacy and as an instruction sheet for the patient. It outlines symptoms, tips of how to keep asthma under control, and provides a written record for the pharmacist, physician and patient.
 
“We undertook this study to see if we could improve outcomes for asthmatic children,” says Dr. Noya.
 
The study showed that physicians using the Action Plan were more likely to suggest long-term prescriptions; further, more patients took their medications longer (for 28 days versus 15 days) and consequently the asthma was better controlled.  
 
“This study may have sparked a positive change in the prescribing habits of emergency room physicians,” says Dr. Noya.  “A lot of our business in the emergency department is treating children under five who come in with asthma attacks. We need to streamline and optimize our approach. The action plan is a move in the right direction.”
 
The Action Plan for Asthma Attacks is available in the “asthma corner” of the Emergency Department. It is also available on line by clicking here.