Proper use of Pressurized Hand-Held Inhalers in Patients with Chronic Airway Obstruction
Shabtai Varsano, Ilana Jacoby, Mila Garenkin
Asthma Care and Education Unit, Dept. of Pulmonary Medicine, and Epidemiology Unit, Meir General Hospital, Sapir Medical Center, Kfar Saba; and Sackler School of Medicine, Tel Aviv University
Inhaling drugs via hand-held inhalers in recommended for those with chronic obstructive airway disease (COPD). Approximately 8%-9% of Israel's population use hand-held inhalers, many of them pressurized. Skill in using them and ability of chronic users to learn their proper use have not been assessed.
During 1993 and 1994 we studied 200 patients with bronchial asthma or COPD who regularly used a pressurized hand-held inhaler (PI), but were not trained to use it in our out-patient pulmonary clinic. Only a third were found to be skilled in its use. About half were completely unable to use it properly, and 17% used it in a suboptimal way. Remarkably, only 40% had been taught anything with regard to its use. About 75% of the suboptimal users significantly improved their skill in its use immediately after receiving a single individual teaching and corrective demonstration session. While 15% failed to learn the proper use of the PI, many of those who improved immediately after a single teaching session retained the learned skills for months.
We conclude that the physician who recommends the use of a PI is responsible for the patient's being taught its proper use in a demonstration session. Skill in its use should be reassessed periodically during the entire treatment period.