Why take a peak flow in asthma – a review
Annelies van Wamel
Friday, February 26, 2010
Current asthma protocols advocate the measurement of peak flow expiratory rate (PEFR) by staff in pre-hospital care in their assessment and management of acute asthma. Yet in practice many, if not most, omit to do this. The limited amount of recent research available – which has been conducted by doctors and accident and emergency staff and concerns patients admitted to accident and emergency departments – shows that PEFR is one of the best, if not the best, predictive assessment tool available to ambulance staff. Pulse oximetry and PEFR do not measure the same things and cannot replace each other. Not taking a pre- and post-treatment PEFR is potentially detrimental to patient care and does not comply with Joint Royal Colleges Service Liaison Committee and British Thoracic Society standards. Paramedic-led research on assessment and management of acute asthma in pre-hospital settings is lacking.
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