'Complacency' Leads To Asthma Deaths

New Research Reveals Complacency Leads To Unnecessary Deaths


Individuals who suffer from asthma are at risk of dying unnecessarily due to complacency from medical professionals.

This is according to findings from the National Review of Asthma Deaths, which revealed nearly half of patients looked at by analysts did not receive any medical attention during their final asthma attack.

Researchers found there were 1,242 deaths associated with the condition in 2012, despite the fact fatalities have been falling. However, the UK - which has 5.5 million asthmatics - has among the highest death rates from the illness in Europe.

What's more, the review revealed care standards were "less than satisfactory" in a quarter of cases where individuals had died, while there was "room for improvement" in the quality of treatment received by 83 per cent of those who passed away due to the condition.

It was also revealed that too few patients were using preventer inhalers to ease their symptoms, along with excessive overuse of reliever inhalers.

As a result, researchers claimed that both medical staff and patients had become complacent about the condition. This is partly because sufferers can sometimes feel as if they do not need to continue to take their medication, due to the nature of the symptoms.

Dr Kevin Stewart, of the Royal College of Physicians, said: "It's time to end our complacency about asthma, which can, and does, kill. There are important messages in this report for clinicians, for patients and their families and for policymakers.

"We haven't paid enough attention to the importance of good routine asthma care by clinicians with the right training and experience and the part that patients themselves play in this."

Earlier this year, research carried out by Asthma UK revealed hospital admissions for children in England have risen by 15 per cent, while 85 per cent of youngsters living with the condition are not receiving the basic standard of care.

The charity called for "renewed commitment" to a higher standard of treatment for patients across the UK with the suggestion of a NHS asthma audit that aims to highlight improvements that need to be made to reduce the number of admissions faced by children.

Expert Opinion
Asthma is still a significant killer in the UK and this research shows there is much more to be done to reduce the number of associated deaths.

“There is no excuse for asthma patients to receive unsatisfactory care and the NHS must look at why this is sometimes the case and what more can be done to improve overall standards.

“Patients of all ages must be informed of the safest ways to manage their asthma by specialist clinicians and made aware of the consequences of not following the guidelines.

“Where care is substandard, the NHS must openly communicate with all concerned about what improvements have been made to ensure the safety of future patients is protected.”
Julie Lewis, Partner