A newly published study from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston suggests a large majority of patients with asthma or who suffer from allergies do not know how to properly use their prescribed medical devices, such as inhalers and life-saving epinephrine auto injectors. Improper use results in ineffective medication delivery, and could lead to a serious or even life-threatening asthma attack. The study is now available online, and will be featured in print in the January issue of the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.
Dr. Rana Bonds, the study’s lead author and an assistant professor at the department of internal medicine, division of allergy and immunology at UTMB, said teaching patients how to use these devices is fundamental to improving disease outcome and preventing serious symptom flare ups or emergencies. She and a team of fellow researchers conducted a study in order to identify factors linked to the incorrect usage of these medical devices and contribute to the development of future teaching programs.
Dr. Bonds’ study enrolled 145 patients with asthma, currently on epinephrine autoinjectors or inhalers, from several UTMB allergy/immunology clinics. The patients were asked to demonstrate how they use their respective devices, then gauged according to recommended use. The findings revealed only 16% of the participants were able to demonstrate autoinjector use properly, with more than half overlooking at least 3 important steps. The most common error made was not holding the device in place for at least 10 seconds after triggering the injection. Other noted administration errors included were not placing the “active” end of the autoinjector on the thigh, and not exerting enough force to trigger the injection. Among the patients that used inhalers, only 7% used the device correctly, while 63% missed at least 3 steps, the most common being not completely and forcefully exhaling before administering the medication. The next most common misstep was not shaking the inhaler before taking a subsequent dose.