Using an inhaler is the most common and effective way to take respiratory medications and remains the cornerstone for treating airways diseases such as asthma and COPD.
The advantage of the inhaled route for delivery of these medicines is that they are delivered directly into the airways and therefore minimalizing any potential side effects.
Concerned that people are still unable to use their devices and that many health care professionals are unable to assist people effectively in optimising their technique, The UK Inhaler Group (UKIG) has developed standards and competencies for those prescribing inhaled medications. The standards set out how healthcare professionals can work with patients to optimise their technique and maximise the benefit of their medication.
Jane Scullion Respiratory Nurse Consultant University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust and lead author of the Standards document, on behalf of UKIG, said: "Correct inhaler use is fundamental to improving outcomes in asthma and COPD. Know it, show it, teach it and review.”
Monica Fletcher, Chair of UKIG and CEO of Education for Health, which offers training for HCPs in inhaler technique said: “A study by the Asthma UK Centre in Applied Research found that of the £1.1 billion cost of treating asthma in the UK, at least £666 million is spent on prescription costs each year. Yet a survey conducted by Asthma UK in 2016 found that up to a third of people with asthma aren't using their inhalers correctly.
“Similar numbers of HCPS also struggle to use inhalers, demonstrating that many who prescribe and teach techniques are also getting it wrong.
“Inhalers taken correctly save lives, but inhalers taking incorrectly will inevitably be less efficient and could be life threatening.”
Dr Duncan Keeley, GP in Thame, Policy lead for Primary Care Respiratory Society UK added: “As clinicians we are responsible for ensuring patients receive the most appropriate medication and prescribing medicines is an important aspect of our daily work. Yet we sometimes miss the obvious. If patients don’t know how to use their inhalers, they won’t benefit from them as we intend them to. This is something we need to address and revisit to ensure patients get the maximum benefit from their treatment.”
UKIG Inhaler Standards and Competencies Document is available for download at on the UKIG's Standards, policies and protocols page.