Objective: To compare the guidelines in the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) acute asthma management protocol with actual practice in the Accident and Emergency Department.
Methods: A prospective docket audit was done of all consecutive medical records of patients, presenting with a diagnosed acute asthmatic attack between June 1 and September 30, 2010, to the emergency department of the UHWI. A convenient sample was used. The audit tool used was created from the UHWI protocol for the emergency management of asthma in adults and children, as well as the British Adult Asthma Audit Tool. The audit tool assessed three main sections: initial assessment, initial management, and discharge considerations. Data were coded and entered in Microsoft Excel 2007 and statistical analyses conducted using Stata version 10. Management patterns were compared to the actual protocol and then discussed.
Results: A total of 15 864 patients were seen during the study period. Of these, a total of 293 patients were seen for a presentation of acute asthma. More females (57.3%) than males were seen, with the mean age of 33.53 years. Only 31% of patients were given a severity assessment of mild, moderate, or severe. Peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR) was attempted and recorded in 62%, but only 18.1% of patients had both pre and post PEFR done. Only 4.4% of patients were administered nebulizations within the suggested time frame. Positively, 94.2% of patients were given a prescription for inhaled corticosteroids and bronchodilators to continue post-discharge.
Conclusions: Acute asthma management still remains an area of medical practice that continues to have long-standing difficulties. Failure to assess and document the severity of asthma attacks along with the under-utilization of PEFR was noted.