Dispensing asthma medication in the emergency department

December 31, 2012

Dispensing asthma meds in the emergency department (ED) reduces future visits and costs.

Dispensing asthma meds in the emergency department (ED) reduces future visits and costs. Using a decision-analysis model and data from the literature, investigators compared outcomes of usual care (recommending outpatient follow-up), uniform prescribing of inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) at the time of the visit, and uniform dispensing of ICS for a hypothetical group of 100 children with asthma being discharged from the ED.

They found that the rate of return to the ED per 100 patients within 1 month of the initial ED visit was 8.4 visits for medication dispensing and 9.4 for medication prescribing compared with 10.6 visits for usual care.

Dispensing and prescribing ICS also reduced hospital admissions. Similarly, direct costs per 100 patients for each of the 3 groups were estimated to be $19,100; $20,800; and $23,400, respectively (Andrews AL, et al.  J Pediatr. 2012;161[5]:903-907).