• 16May

    Personal action plans and self-management support key to combat asthma deaths

    Why asthma still kills, the report of the National Review of Asthma Deaths was published on 6 May 2014, by the Royal College of Physicians, to coincide with World Asthma Day.

    The report findings and recommendations contain messages for doctors, nurses, patients, parents and carers. Deficiencies were found in routine asthma care and the review outlines recommendations to be taken forward by not only those who treat patients with this chronic condition but also pharmacists, NHS service managers, policy makers, commissioners and patient and professional bodies.

    ‘Why asthma still kills’ calls for an end to the complacency around asthma care in order to save lives and highlights four key messages:

    • Every hospital and GP practice should have designated, named clinician for asthma services.
    • Better monitoring of asthma control; where loss of control is identified, immediate action is required including escalation of responsibility, treatment change and arrangements for follow-up.
    • Better education is needed for doctors, nurses, patients and carers to make them aware of the risks. They need to be able to recognise the warning signs of poor asthma control and know what to do during an attack.
    • All patients should be provided with a personal asthma action plan (PAAP), which can help them to identify if their asthma is worsening and tell them how and when to seek help.

    The report highlights that parents, carers and children need better support to help them manage asthma, including on ‘how’, ‘why’ and ‘when’ to use asthma medications, recognising when asthma is not controlled, and knowing when and how to seek emergency advice.

    For a 12-month period from 1 February 2012, deaths from asthma in the UK were reviewed systematically and were subject to an in-depth multidisciplinary confidential enquiry. By engaging with health professionals, the project explored the individual circumstances surrounding the death – for example the medical care received the environmental conditions etc.

    It is not clear why the number of deaths per year from asthma in the UK have not reduced significantly from around 1,200 for many years, even though it is widely accepted that there are preventable factors in 90% of deaths. The aim of the project was to understand why people of all ages die from asthma so that recommendations could be made to prevent deaths from asthma in the future.

    The full report and summaries for different audiences can be accessed here.