Asthma plan ‘more important than ever’ during COVID

Matt Woodley

23/08/2021 5:11:07 PM

People with asthma but no written action plan have been warned they could end up in hospital if they do not see their GP.

Asthma consultation with a GP.
Only 40% of children and around a quarter of adults with asthma have a written asthma action plan.

There are concerns many Australians with asthma are not following a written asthma action plan (WAAP) to help manage flare-ups due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
GP Professor Nick Zwar, Chair of the National Asthma Council Australia Guidelines Committee, said this oversight could ultimately mean they end up in an emergency department.
‘During COVID, it is more important than ever for all of the 2.7 million Australians with asthma to develop a WAAP in consultation with their doctor and follow it,’ he said.
‘People are worried about restrictions when visiting their GP during the pandemic [but] if they don’t have a WAAP to refer to, they can ultimately end up in an emergency department with serious asthma symptoms.’
The National Asthma Council Australia says that while WAAPs are recognised as an integral part of effective asthma self-management, uptake is limited; currently only 40% of children and around a quarter of adults with asthma have one, while even fewer use it.
‘Not only will it help the person with asthma and/or their carer take early action to prevent or reduce the severity of an asthma attack, but it also provides clear instructions on how to adjust medication in response to asthma symptoms,’ Professor Zwar said.
‘A WAAP also outlines when and how to get medical care, reducing the risk of emergency department visits or hospital admissions during COVID.
‘We are encouraging all healthcare professionals to check that their patients with asthma have a personalised, up-to-date, written asthma action plan and that they, or the parent/carer if it is a child, understand how to follow it.’
RACGP President Dr Karen Price has also leant her support to the campaign.
‘I am concerned that throughout this pandemic, some patients with asthma are avoiding visiting their usual GP,’ she said.
‘We want to reassure patients that GPs are still available to care for patients with asthma, that includes telehealth consultations by telephone or video as well as in-person appointments.
‘Remember that if a patient opts for a telehealth consultation, a written asthma action plan can be discussed, updated and delivered electronically.’
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