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Half of nebulisers are not needed

Nebuliser treatment is significantly overused, with more than half of those referred for therapy not needing it, a new audit reports.

The researchers insisted there was significant scope to reduce costs and improve patient safety by more careful assessment of nebuliser use.

Under the audit, respiratory nurses at Central Cheshire PCT set up a centralised nebuliser service to assess patients' requirements for treatment.

They found 54 per cent of those referred through the system did not need nebuliser therapy.

A subsequent assessment of 509 patients at 25 GP prac-tices saved £20,817 by discontinuing unnecessary nebuliser use.

The researchers said the audit also improved patient compliance with drug therapy.

Jane Bolam, a respiratory nurse at the trust who led the audit, said: '[We've had] extremely positive feedback. The GPs have been utterly positive.

'There has been a great increase in compliance. I'm sure it's had an impact on exacerbation rates.'

The researchers presented results at the 2006 National Patient Safety Agency conference in Birmingham last week.

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