Asthma in the emergency department: Impact of a protocol on optimizing therapy

Teresa Duke, Arthur Kellermann, Robert Ellis, Kristopher Arheart, Timothy Self

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The objective of this study was to evaluate the impact of a simple educational intervention on the prescribing habits of internal medicine residents in the treatment of acute asthma in a busy emergency department (ED). Prescribing habits for 16 residents were documented for 4 months. The first 2 months served as a control period during which eight residents managed asthma patients without the benefit of any specific educational intervention beyond standard department protocols. A total of 129 patients treated by the residents during this initial phase were assessed. During the second 2-month period, a 10-minute verbal presentation and explicit written treatment protocol were provided to another eight residents, and their treatment of 83 patients was covertly evaluated. Increased prescribing of desired therapy was significantly improved in every area except that of prescribing an inhaled steroid metered dose inhaler for use as a discharge medication. The 10-minute verbal presentation given in conjunction with a three-page handout was found to be highly effective for eliciting improvement in treatment practices during short clinical rotations. The duration of this effect beyond each rotation is unknown. This educational intervention should be presented by the ED medical director, clinical pharmacist, or other appropriate clinician in virtually any ED as quality of patient care can be dramatically improved.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)432-435
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican Journal of Emergency Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1991


  • asthma
  • education
  • emergency
  • protocol
  • treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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