Analysis

How safer clinical practice could prevent needless asthma deaths

More than five million people in the UK have asthma and three people die every day because of the condition – yet 90% of these deaths might be avoidable.

Picture credit: SPL

Asthma UK has published research showing that thousands of people are at risk of having a potentially life-threatening asthma attacks because of unsafe prescribing.

The charity analysed GP data on 94,955 patients with asthma between 2010 and 2013.

Of the sample, 402 patients were found to have been prescribed long-acting reliever medicines without inhaled steroids. Long-acting reliever medicines (usually administered in green inhalers), are used as a ‘rescue’ to help with shortness of breath, and should never be used without a ‘preventer’ steroid medicine (usually administered in a brown inhaler).

Practices need to call in patients who might be at risk – Debby Waddell

This sample figure, if representative of the whole of the UK, suggests around 22,840 people with asthma, 1,903 of whom are children, might have been prescribed reliever medicines without preventer inhalers. This exposes them to heightened risk of

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