Errors Are Found in Assessing Medications

Published Online: Saturday, January 1, 2005

A new study on inhaler use found that many children with asthma and their parents may be incorrectly assessing inhaler medication levels. For the study, the researchers asked 50 children with asthma and their parents about their understanding of inhaler use and the methods they employ to assess medication levels in the inhaler.

The findings showed that 78% of the children and parents knew that they were supposed to shake the inhaler prior to use. Yet, only half actually shook the inhaler when they were asked to demonstrate how they use it. Also, 72% of the participants believed that their inhaler was empty when it no longer made a puffing sound as they used it. The researchers found this approach inaccurate, however. The number of audible puff sounds in each inhaler was higher than the number of doses listed by the manufacturer, meaning that patients continued to use the inhaler after all the medication was gone.

The study also revealed that some of the participants floated the inhaler in water to measure the remaining medication levels. Reporting in Chest (October 2004), the researchers said that this method is not only inaccurate, but also dangerous, due to water collection at the top of the valve system.

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