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Experts warn of dangers from not using inhalers properly

Experts have warned that asthma sufferers and individuals who suffer from severe allergic reactions often do not know how to use their medical devices properly, sometimes resulting in tragic consequences.

According to a recent study, only 16 per cent of people know how to correctly use an epinephrine injector – known colloquially as an epi-pen – when they are having a life-threatening allergic reaction. The results of the study also showed that just 7% of people were able to use an asthma inhaler as instructed, too.

The study followed over 140 people who were using epi-pens and inhalers to discover how they used their medical devices compared with the proper medically-established standards.

Dr Rana Bonds led the study and stated: “Most patients made multiple mistakes and would not have benefitted from self-administration of the potentially life-saving treatment if the need arose.”

Although not using an epi-pen correctly could be potentially calamitous and failing to use an asthma inhaler correctly may not lead to the same disastrous results, misuse of the inhaler whilst undergoing an asthma attack could just lead to poor effectiveness of the drug being administered.

The study’s results found that most inhaler users managed to complete at least half the number of established steps correctly, and that the errors which most commonly occurred often resulted in just a reduced amount of medication instead of failing to be administered altogether.

Dr Samantha Walker is the director of research and policy at Asthma UK and told the BBC, “You wouldn’t give someone a new car without them having driving lessons first, so if you are going to invest in prescribing a lifetime of asthma medicines, it’s crucial that health care professionals ensure that their patients know how to use them.”

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