Quick asthma treatment better for children

Ottawa research shows the quick delivery of an oral steroid in a hospital waiting room can help children recover from an asthma attack faster and keep them out of hospitals.

Hospitals also save money as children return home faster after receiving oral steroid

When a triage nurse administers an oral steroid to a young asthma patient, the patient recovers much faster and stays out of hospital, Ottawa research shows. ((Istock))

Children with asthma are receiving treatment sooner and hospitals are saving money after new Ottawa research revealed nurses could administer an oral steroid.

Pollen season is fast approaching, and the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) is preparing for some of the more than 2,500 patients who enter its emergency room with the respiratory condition each year.

But a new medical directive means the children receive help immediately from triage nurses instead of waiting to see a doctor. The oral steroid used to need the approval of a physician.

"The child is actually healing as he's waiting and by the time he sees the doctor, it's better," said Françine Leduc, a triage nurse at CHEO.

The research by Dr. Roger Zemek of Ottawa was recently published in the journal Pediatrics.

Zemek told the CBC's David Gerow his study showed children with asthma spend fewer nights in hospital and return home sooner after getting quicker treatment.

"This is the effective, most efficient way to get our kids feeling better faster, and in a more efficient manner," Zemek said.

Zemek said it is a win-win situation because hospital beds are left open for other children who need them. He believes the practice will soon become the standard across Canada.

"It's the only way we can improve how we become more efficient in the lack of more resources," he said.

The research took about two years, but other hospitals moved to quicker treatment when they saw the immediate results.