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Emergency department to trial asthma packs

Changing hospital procedure may be the key to reducing the number of emergency department visits due to asthma.

A new study by a team comprising the Asthma Foundation Queensland, Queensland University of Technology, Gold Coast University Hospital and Robina Hospital will test whether implementing a more comprehensive intervention when patients leave hospital after an asthma emergency can decrease the chance of them returning with another flare up.

In 2014–15, 12,528 people presented to hospital emergency departments in Queensland due to asthma. A recent report by Deloitte Access Economics, commissioned by Asthma Australia and the National Asthma Council Australia, found asthma is costing Australia $28 billion a year.

Researchers will compare patients discharged using the standard procedure at Gold Coast University Hospital and patients at Robina Hospital discharged using a new approach, in which patients will be provided with an asthma control pack.

The pack includes a spacer, education materials on controlling asthma, an interim asthma action plan, referral to the patient’s GP and the 1800 ASTHMA helpline.

Dr Peter Anderson, chief executive of Asthma Foundation Queensland, said: “People often think asthma is not serious or life-threatening but this is simply not the case. Based on current statistics, one person dies every day due to asthma in Australia and this is utterly unacceptable.”

If the new approach proves successful in reducing hospitalisations, it could be developed into a model for other Queensland hospitals.

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