A recent study from the University of Texas shows that patients frequently do not understand how to self-administer medications with epinephrine autoinjectors and asthma inhalers – considered by most to be easy-to-use medical devices.
Contrary to opinion, this study showed only 7 percent of asthma inhaler users were able to demonstrate correct use of their device. Common errors were not realizing that a horn-type sound from the spacer indicated the inhalation was performed imperfectly and not shaking the inhaler before administering the second medication puff.
In the case of epinephrine autoinjectors only 16 percent of patients with were able to demonstrate correct use. The most common error was not holding the unit in place for at least 10 seconds after triggering. Other errors included the failure to place the needle end of the device on the thigh and failure to depress the device forcefully enough to activate the injection.
Mistakes such as these is one of the reasons Iridia provides support for first responders transitioning from an EMA-FR to an Emergency Medical Responder (EMR) license level – Learn more about the EMR Program.
EMR license protocols outline the roles and responsibilities of firefighters and paramedics who respond to a medical emergency on-scene. The goal of the protocols is to quickly identify and respond to any life threatening medical emergency. Within these protocols, first responders are trained on how to use these devices correctly to support patients should they need to use an inhaler or autoinjector.
Additionally, Iridia demonstrates proper use of these devices in our Critical Intervention Workshops, designed to review and test emergency response procedures in Non-Hospital settings such as private surgery centers, outpatient and diagnostic facilities.
It is an overlooked fact that many healthcare providers assume patients know how to use these devices. Instead, healthcare providers should take the time to understand the difficulty patients are having with these devices. Most mistakes made by users in the study would have resulted in diminished doses – impacting potentially life-saving treatment if the need arose.
“Repeated verbal instruction and, perhaps even more effective, repeated visual education, including demonstration using trainer devices, are highly recommended. Novel methods of providing this repetitive training for patients are needed,” says Dr. Bonds, author of the study.