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Ann Emerg Med. 2005 Oct;46(4):316-22.

Inadequate follow-up controller medications among patients with asthma who visit the emergency department.

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Department of Emergency Medicine, MetroHealth Medical Center, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH, USA.



The purpose of this study is to determine the frequency with which primary care physicians add inhaled corticosteroids to the regimen of asthmatic patients after a visit to the emergency department (ED) among patients not previously prescribed inhaled corticosteroids and to determine the rate at which inhaled corticosteroids prescribed in the ED were continued by primary care physicians.


We conducted a structured retrospective cohort study using electronic medical record review of consecutive patients aged 6 to 45 years, treated for acute asthma exacerbation (International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision code 493.00 through 493.99) in the ED during a specified 6-month period, and followed up for 1 year. The patients' first ED visit for asthma exacerbation during the study period was considered the index visit for purposes of this study.


Six hundred twenty-nine patients met study inclusion criteria, 414 of whom were not previously receiving inhaled corticosteroid therapy. On ED or hospital discharge, 99 (24%) of these 414 patients were prescribed an inhaled corticosteroid. Of these 99 patients, 37 patients had a primary care follow-up visit within 6 months, with 4 receiving an inhaled corticosteroid dose change and no patients having the inhaled corticosteroids discontinued. Of the 315 patients not prescribed an inhaled corticosteroid on ED or hospital discharge, 128 had a primary care follow-up visit within 6 months, with 32 (25%) patients having an inhaled corticosteroid added to their therapeutic regimen. After primary care follow-up, only 69 (42%) of the 165 patients treated in clinic were receiving an inhaled corticosteroid for control of their asthma. Patients without insurance (odds ratio 0.14; 95% confidence interval 0.027 to 0.71) and patients initially discharged home from the ED (odds ratio 0.17; 95% confidence interval 0.05 to 0.53) were much less likely to receive inhaled corticosteroids at follow-up on multivariate logistic regression adjusting for race, sex, insurance status, and initial disposition.


Primary care physicians infrequently add controller medications (inhaled corticosteroids) at follow-up to the regimen of asthmatic patients after a visit to the ED. Emergency physicians should be encouraged to evaluate chronic asthma burden among patients presenting with exacerbation, educate asthmatic patients, and prescribe controller medications, such as inhaled corticosteroids, for those with persistent symptoms.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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