Inhaler use requires training

Share this article:

Unless they have been taught how to use their dry-powder inhalers, patients may not be getting any medication, a German pulmonologist reports.

Siegfried Wieshammer, MD, studied 224 consecutive asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients who were referred to a clinic in Offenburg. They were asked how they learned to use their inhalers and to demonstrate their technique. Overall, a third of the group (32.1%) did such a bad job that no medication got to their lungs. Dr. Wieshammer presented his findings to the recent American College of Chest Physicians meeting.

There was a direct correlation between training and technique. When a clinician had shown them what to do, three out of four patients (76.9%) used their inhalers correctly. But among those who had to rely only on the brochure included with their devices, more than half (52.6%) failed to receive any medication. Some of them actually exhaled into the tubes.

Two other variables also had independent effects, Dr. Wieshammer found. Error rates increased with age (20% at age <60 years vs. 41.6% >60 years) and the degree of airway obstruction (25% in normal function vs. 63.6% in severe obstruction). Still, older patients can benefit from dry-powder inhalers, Dr. Wieshammer notes. They just need supervision.

Share this article:
You must be a registered member of Clinical Advisor to post a comment.

Sign Up for Free e-newsletters

More in News

Learning from mistakes in Texas Ebola cases

Learning from mistakes in Texas Ebola cases

After two nurses contracted Ebola from a patient, U.S. hospitals try to learn from prior mistakes.

Meds main cause of U.S. allergy-related deaths

Meds main cause of U.S. allergy-related deaths

Fatal anaphylaxis caused by medications, food, and unspecified allergens was significantly associated with race and older age.

Many insurers still don't cover long-term birth control

Many insurers still don't cover long-term birth control ...

Nearly 40% of women do not have access to free long-acting contraceptives.