Healthcare News & Insights

Vast majority of patients use inhalers incorrectly

As many as 90% of patients who use inhaled medications do so the wrong way. Fortunately, the correction is relatively simple.

A study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine found that nine times out of ten, patients who were asked to demonstrate how they use their inhalers made at least one mistake. Most of the medications were for asthma and emphysema. Both conditions use different types of inhalers: diskus style and metered doses. Some patients used one of each type.

That variation seemed to be at the root of most patients’ confusion. For example, metered-dose inhalers require the patient to inhale slowly, while the diskus type requires a quick, sharp inhalation.

The good news: The study found that when correct usage was demonstrated to the patients — including having them “teach it back” to the health care provider — every patient mastered the correct technique.

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