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Review of asthma attacks in children and young people leads to fewer admissions to hospital

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2 August 2018

Hospital admissions for children and young people were reduced by 16% after practices in Harrow took on board the lessons learned from a review of 291 children and young people who had had asthma attacks. Simple but effective lessons such as providing education on recognising attacks and checking inhaler technique resulted in approximately 30 less children and young people (per 100,000) being admitted to hospital between 2015/16 and 2016/17.

Clinicians can use the learning from patients who have had asthma attacks to reduce the risk of further events, concludes Dr Mark Levy, Respiratory Clinical Lead for Harrow CCG, who led the review. This includes all patients with asthma having a personal asthma action plan which helps to identify their asthma triggers and the medicines that reduce the reaction to these risks. Clinicians should also consider keeping one appointment free every day for an ‘acute asthma follow up’ which could be used for another patient if not taken up.

The review was funded as a Local Incentive Scheme (LIS) aimed at improving health care services in the borough. Twenty nine out of 34 Harrow general practices (85%) signed up and fully engaged in the scheme, and recommendations for urgent action for particular patients were sent to all GP practices.

The review states that most attacks are preventable and failure to recognise the risk of asthma attacks can lead to future attacks and even death.

Dr Levy commented:

“It is encouraging that hospital admissions of children and young people following this review were reduced by 16%, which indicates a clear benefit for patients, their families and the local health economy.

“This review shows that clinicians can focus learning on patients who have had asthma attacks and use these events to eliminate factors that pose a risk. By identifying and actively managing these risks, such as identifying whether patients can use their inhaler, these asthma attacks could eventually become fully preventable.

We would like to remind anyone who has been admitted or been seen in A&E or an Urgent Care Centre for an asthma flare-up to go and see their doctor within two working days for a check-up.”

Javina Sehgal, Managing Director of Harrow CCG said:

“Asthma is a serious condition that can cause a number of problems, and in severe cases can be life threatening. However most attacks can be prevented, and learning from good practice can help stop these attacks occurring in the future.

The CCG is pleased that the learning from this review has already led to a reduction in hospital admissions for children and young people in our borough, and would like to thank our local practices for taking part.”