Errors Are Found in Assessing Medications

Pharmacy Times, Volume 0, 0

A new study on inhaler use found thatmany children with asthma and theirparents may be incorrectly assessinginhaler medication levels. For the study,the researchers asked 50 children withasthma and their parents about theirunderstanding of inhaler use and themethods they employ to assess medicationlevels in the inhaler.

The findings showed that 78% of thechildren and parents knew that they weresupposed to shake the inhaler prior to use.Yet, only half actually shook the inhalerwhen they were asked to demonstratehow they use it. Also, 72% of the participantsbelieved that their inhaler wasempty when it no longer made a puffingsound as they used it. The researchersfound this approach inaccurate, however.The number of audible puff sounds ineach inhaler was higher than the numberof doses listed by the manufacturer, meaningthat patients continued to use theinhaler after all the medication was gone.

The study also revealed that some ofthe participants floated the inhaler inwater to measure the remaining medicationlevels. Reporting in Chest (October2004), the researchers said that thismethod is not only inaccurate, but alsodangerous, due to water collection at thetop of the valve system.