Improving Patient Safety in Asthma Care

World Asthma Day takes place on 5 May 2021 with the theme of ‘uncovering asthma misconceptions’. This will address common widely held myths and misconceptions concerning asthma, that prevent persons with asthma from enjoying optimal benefit from the major advances in the management of the condition.

It is estimated that in the UK, 5.4 million people of all ages are receiving treatment for asthma, and though it cannot be cured, it is possible to manage asthma to reduce and prevent asthma attacks.

One of the ambitions of the ‘Adoption and Spread’ national patient safety improvement programme, delivered by Patient Safety Collaboratives, is to support an increase in the proportion of patients in acute hospitals receiving every element (for which they are eligible) of the asthma discharge care bundle.

Jo Congleton, a consultant in respiratory medicine at University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust, and clinical lead for Kent Surrey Sussex AHSN’s respiratory programme, has written a blog on how we can address improvements and inequalities in asthma care. She explains:

“We may not be able to directly alter ‘the causes of the causes’ – the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age – but we can aim to redress the inequality by the way in which we practise, and by considering the impact of any intervention, ensuring that an intervention does not widen any health gap.”

The British Thoracic Society asthma discharge care bundle was developed in 2015, is primarily for patients discharged from emergency departments following an acute asthma attack, but is also suitable for use in admissions wards where circumstances permit.

The bundle consists of five elements as listed below, each of which have been demonstrated to improve patient outcomes:

  • Assessment of inhaler technique
  • Review of medications
  • Provision of a written action plan and patient self-management plan
  • Consideration of triggering and exacerbating factors
  • Appropriate follow-up arrangements

From April 2021, Patient Safety Collaboratives have been supporting acute trusts to implement and improve the use of the discharge bundle, with the aim of reaching 80% of patients being assessed for all elements.

For more information, contact the AHSN NENC Patient Safety Collaborative.