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Prepare patients for an asthma emergency: council

The National Asthma Council Australia is calling on health professionals to check whether patients and carers know what to do in an asthma emergency.

The call coincides with World Asthma Day and comes off the heels of the final report into the Victorian thunderstorm asthma event of 21-22 November 2016, which was handed down last week by the state’s inspector-general for emergency management.

The report recommended public education and engagement campaigns to help communities prepare for and respond to epidemic thunderstorm asthma.

Judi Wicking, nurse and respiratory educator with the National Asthma Council, said the Victorian asthma event highlighted the importance of focusing on management, prevention and preparedness.

Dr Jonathan Burdon, chair of the National Asthma Council Australia and respiratory physician, said with the release of the final report into the event, it's timely for health professionals to check the knowledge of patients and their families about asthma first aid.

“It’s also a good opportunity to remind patients that the best way to treat asthma symptoms is to avoid them happening in the first place by ensuring their asthma is under control and they are following their written asthma action plan,” Burdon said.

Burdon said the 4x4x4 protocol for administering salbutamol was still the recommended community first aid approach.

The National Asthma Council Australia said this now includes advice for helping patients who have both asthma and severe allergies.

“In an emergency, if the patient or carer is unsure whether it is an anaphylaxis reaction or an asthma attack, they should use the patient’s adrenaline (EpiPen) first, then use their asthma reliever,” Burdon said

He recommended that health professionals check the Australian Asthma Handbook for the latest best-practice clinical guidelines for managing acute asthma. The National Asthma Council Australia has created community first aid poster for interested parties to assist first responders:

Photo: National Asthma Council Australia

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