Inadequate asthma treatment practices and noncompliance in Israel

Gideon Eshel, Ravit Raviv, Ron Ben-Abraham, Joseph Barr, Mati Berkovitch, Ori Efrati, Amir Vardi, Zohar Barzilay, Gideon Paret
Pediatric Pulmonology 2002, 33 (2): 85-9
Childhood asthma morbidity and mortality are increasing despite improvements in asthma therapy. The changes over the past decade in the guidelines for treatment of children with severe asthma have led to a reduction in admissions and readmissions to the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU). The Israeli medical infrastructure is exemplary in its capability of extending appropriate medical services to its entire population. Our objective was to look at the background of preventive maintenance treatment and treatment during an acute episode in children admitted to PICUs with severe asthma, and to identify areas that could be targeted for change. A 5-year retrospective chart audit on acute asthma admissions was conducted in two PICUs of general community hospitals representative of the provision of medical care in Israel. The prehospitalization preventive management and acute treatment prior to PICU admission were evaluated, and the number of admissions and readmissions was recorded. The index admission was the first episode of acute asthma for only 3% of the children: 25% of patients required readmission, and 15% of these to the PICU. In spite of a proven history of acute exacerbations of the disease, only 60% were on continuous treatment between attacks, and 29% of them had abruptly discontinued treatment, most of them shortly before the onset of the index attack. Inhaled steroids were used as maintenance and preventive treatment by less than one-third of the children, with the other two-thirds receiving mainly beta-2 agonists drugs. In conclusion, an unacceptably large proportion of asthmatic children do not receive the recommended maintenance and preventive treatment because of poor compliance, lack of education, or insufficient healthcare provision. This has probably led to avoidable recurrences of acute asthma exacerbations and unnecessary use of PICU facilities. These findings suggest that steps for implementing recommended guidelines and an educational program are needed.

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