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Two thirds of deaths from asthma are preventable, confidential inquiry finds

BMJ 2014; 348 doi: (Published 06 May 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g3108
  1. Ingrid Torjesen
  1. 1London

Two in three deaths from asthma could be prevented by better management of the condition including personal asthma plans for patients, timely reviews of asthma care, and the prescription of more appropriate drugs, says the first confidential inquiry into asthma by the Royal College of Physicians.1

The inquiry looked in depth at the circumstances surrounding 195 asthma deaths in the United Kingdom in the 12 months from February 2012. The reviewers identified primary care failings in the routine care of 70% of the deaths studied: in 59% of deaths asthma guidelines were not fully adhered to, and in 47% of deaths avoidable factors were evident in prescribing.

Mark Levy, a general practitioner and the Royal College of Physicians’ clinical lead for the National Review of Asthma Deaths, said, “We identified major avoidable factors in two thirds of those who died, so it is fair to say that at least two thirds of the deaths could have been avoided.”

Kay Boycott, chief executive of Asthma UK, said, “Parents of children with asthma will be especially horrified that the confidential enquiry showed that children …

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