Magazine article Drug Topics

New Initiative Educates Patients about Inhaler Use

Magazine article Drug Topics

New Initiative Educates Patients about Inhaler Use

Article excerpt

The American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC) recently launched a free Web-based tutorial to educate those with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) about the proper use of their inhaled medications. The tutorial is available at http://www. yourlunghealth.org.

The tutorial includes tips on the correct use of metered dose inhalers (MDIs), both with and without an assist device, and on the correct use of dry powder inhalers (DPIs). It also gives tips on the correct use of nebulizers. The tutorial explains the difference between rescue drugs and maintenance drugs, and tells patients when they should call their doctor.

In addition to the tutorial, the Web site features a glossary and a description of the medications and classes of drugs used to treat different pulmonary diseases, and it offers some general information about these medications. The site also has an area describing different tests to assess lung function and health, including spirometry.

According to AARC, the results of past studies suggest that many persons with respiratory disease are not trained to use the correct-rescue or maintenance-inhalers. In addition, even more patients use their inhalers incorrectly, which affects the delivery of medication to the lungs.

Said Renee Ahrens Thomas, Pharm.D., MBA, an associate professor of pharmacy practice at the Bernard J. Dunn School of Pharmacy at Shenandoah University in Winchester, Va., "Pharmacists should counsel every patient that comes into the pharmacy with a new inhaler prescription about how to use the device properly, how many doses are contained in the inhaler, and how to tell if the inhaler is empty." Pharmacists must continually reinforce proper inhaler use, Ahrens Thomas said.

Leslie Hendeles, Pharm.D., a professor of pharmacy and pediatrics at the University of Florida in Gainesville, agreed. "Study findings indicate that it is particularly true of MDIs that patients do not use them properly. This is in part because neither the physician nor the pharmacist has taken responsibility for patient education. And this is especially true among those who are treated by primary care physicians."

He went on to say that "patients need frequent reeducation and observation, and pharmacists can play a significant role. …

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