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One in four GPs 'unable to use asthma inhalers'

By Nigel Praities

A quarter of GPs are unable to work an asthma inhaler despite being shown how to use them three times, researchers claim.

Data from the study of over 130 GPs – currently being prepared for publication - show 68% were unable to use a metered-dose inhaler after being shown how by practice nurses.

Following a further two reviews – to reinforce inhaler techniques – 23% were still unable to use the inhaler.

The data come after a similar study in patients presented earlier this year showed 61% of patients were unable to use their MDI despite being instructed three times.

Dr Mark Levy, a GP in Kenton, Middlesex who carried out the research, said the ‘worrying' data was a result of NICE focusing on cost, rather than how easy the inhaler was to use.

‘As someone once said, the most expensive inhaler is the one that patients, and health professionals, cannot use,' he said.

Dr Dermot Ryan, a GP in Loughborough, Leicestershire, said the results were important as they illustrate why some patients' asthma control never improves.

‘It shows a bigger problem about why some patients do not get better. They have never been shown, because the people prescribing the inhaler don't know how to show them.

‘Anecdotally, about 5% of patients don't know to take the cap off when they are using them,' he said.

Dr Ryan recommended GPs unsure of their inhaler technique should consult their practice nurse or go on YouTube for advice.

Many patients struggle to use a metred-dose inhaler - but a new study suggests GPs may struggle too Many patients struggle to use a metred-dose inhaler - but a new study suggests GPs may struggle too

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