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Nurses are being encouraged to access a new Severe Asthma Checklist tool that helps identify patients with severe asthma and set them on the right path to treatment and better management of the condition.

While the tool was developed for GPs by the National Asthma Council (NAC), acute and primary care nurses are being called on to take advantage of the resource as latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reveals a drop in asthma-related deaths.

“The checklist can help nurses in all practice settings better understand the referral pathways available to patients as well as considerations around adherence, inhaler technique, comorbidities, triggers and the potential for reliever overuse, which helps ensure all patients with asthma receive the treatment they need to better manage the condition,” NAC’s Asthma and Respiratory Educator Marg Gordon said.

“Nurses in acute settings are crucial to ensuring patients get the care they need for their asthma after they leave hospital, while those working in primary care are ideally places to provide support and education to all asthma patients.”

New data from the ABS revealed asthma-related deaths among Australian women are falling but remain stagnant when it comes to men.

Figures show there were 389 asthma-related deaths recorded in Australia in 2018, made up of 250 females and 139 males, a decrease from 441 in 2017 and 457 in 2016.

Australians aged 75 and over continue to account for nearly two-thirds of deaths (241 of 389), while deaths in children remain uncommon but can still occur, with seven children losing their lives to asthma in 2018.

NAC Chief Executive Siobhan Brophy said the fall in asthma-related deaths among adult women, from 281 to 234, could be attributed to a range of factors.

“We believe that increased patient awareness following the epidemic thunderstorm asthma event in Melbourne in 2016 has played a large role in this reduction,” she said.

“The development of new ways to manage severe asthma is also having an impact – biological agents are improving patient lives, while increased management and review protocols surrounding their potential prescription are providing greater opportunities to optimise patient care.”

Severe asthma, defined as asthma that remains uncontrollable despite the highest recommended level of inhaled medication or maintenance oral corticosteroids, affects only about three to 10% of the 2.5 million Australians living with asthma but can have a significant impact on a patient’s health, career, and daily life.

The Severe Asthma Checklist draws on guidance from the Australian Asthma Handbook and Monoclonal antibody therapy for severe asthma information paper and experts.

For more information on severe asthma diagnosis and management visit for how-to videos and checklists on inhaler technique.