Knowledge Is Power

These statistics show that the number of cases of children hospitalized for asthma episodes does not appear to be going down as it should — despite the availability of safe and effective treatments to stop and control asthma. But, it may not have to be that way — especially if parents and children become more knowledgeable about what asthma is and realize that it can be managed.

Question?

Should you be worried that your asthmatic child could end up hospitalized?

It depends. Thousands of children's hospitalizations actually could be avoided each year if parents were better educated by pediatric providers about their child's asthma and were more proactive about follow-up visits, according to researchers at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

Research findings suggest that inadequate education of parents about their child's condition can contribute to the child being hospitalized for an illness that could have been prevented. Both health care provider groups and parents agreed on this assessment.

Medication Questions Dominate

Parents of the children in the Wisconsin study said the top reason for avoidable hospitalizations was their lack of adherence to medication-related issues such as including instructions on proper dosages, dose frequency, treatment duration, and how to obtain needed refills easily.

To avoid this, the researchers suggested that parents should review the following with their child's health care providers:

  • Every medication's name and purpose

  • The medication's dosage and dose frequency

  • How to give the medication to a child

  • How long to take the medications

  • How to refill the medications

  • Whom to call if the child runs out of the medication

Parents in the study also acknowledged that they did not take appropriate preventive measures to keep their children out of the hospital. This included helping children with asthma avoid triggers such as cigarette smoke and dust.

Follow-Up Visits

Another link to avoidable hospitalizations was the delay or lack of follow-up visits. Parents in the study cited this reason far less than the health care providers. This suggests that parents need to be better educated on the need for and importance of follow-up visits, the researchers said.

In addition, they pointed out that health care providers and parents needed to work together on recommending and scheduling future visits, so the child's condition is continuously monitored after hospitalizations.

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