Research Article

Trends in the hospital care of acute childhood asthma 1970-8: a regional study.

Br Med J 1980; 281 doi: (Published 01 November 1980) Cite this as: Br Med J 1980;281:1191
  1. H R Anderson,
  2. P Bailey,
  3. S West


    In the South-west Thames Region over the period 1970-8 the number of admissions for asthma in children aged 5-14 years increased from 256 to 684, an increase of 167%. Factors associated with this trend were investigated by an analysis of routine hospital statistics and examination of case notes for 1970 and 1978 from every hospital in the region. The trend was caused partly by an increase in readmission rates. There was a more than fivefold increase in self-referrals; these patients had less severe asthma on admission and a higher readmission rate than patients referred by general practitioners. Drug management before and after admission changed considerably over the nine years, as did hospital investigations. Overall, there was little change in the level of severity on admission. The increase in admissions was not associated with a reduction in deaths from asthma in the region and occurred in spite of major advances in the drug control of asthma; this indicates an inadequacy of ambulatory care. The shift in the balance of care towards the hospital and the increasing adoption of a primary care function by the hospital indicate a need for hospitals and general practice to agree jointly on management policies for acute asthma.