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Ground breaking research promoted by ERNA

ERNA has a key role in facilitating communication of latest research findings through its network of members and making these available to nurses in clinical practice. The purpose of this is to ensure European respiratory nurses have the most up-to-date research and advice in caring for patients with respiratory problems.

ERNA gives respiratory interested nurses a Pan-European body through which they can give their input on Europe-wide research agendas and spending priorities.

ERNA provides a forum to share the latest in respiratory research across Europe, through collaboration with other organisations including the European Respiratory Society (ERS), European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI) and The International Primary Care Respiratory Group (IPCRG).

Is the ‘blue’ colour convention for inhaled reliever medications important? A UK-based survey of healthcare professionals and patients with airways disease

In many countries, short-acting Beta2-agonist inhalers have traditionally been coloured blue. This inhaled therapy has also conventionally been known as a ‘reliever’ by patients and healthcare professionals (HCPs), in comparison with ‘preventer’ medications (inhaled steroids). With the rapidly changing market in inhaled therapy for COPD and asthma and growing numbers of devices, there has been some concern that the erosion of traditional colour conventions is leading to patients (and HCPs) becoming confused about the role of different therapies.

In order to assess whether there was concern over the perceived changing colour conventions, the UK Inhaler Group carried out a large online survey of patients and HCPs. The aim was to determine how patients and HCPs identify and describe inhaled drugs, and how this might impact on use of medicines and safety. The results of the survey highlighted the importance of the term ‘blue inhaler’ for patients with only 11.3% never referring to the colour when referring to their inhaler. For HCPs, 95% felt colour conventions were important when referring to reliever medication.

In addition, HCPs appear to refer to inhalers mainly by colour when talking to patients. Our conclusions were that the concept of a ‘blue inhaler’ remains important to patients and healthcare professionals. These results add to the debate about the need to formalise the colour coding of inhaled therapies, in particular using the colour blue for inhalers for rapid relief of symptoms, as this convention may be an important measure and contributor to patient safety. The authors, including ERNA founder Monica Fletcher, hope their survey should provide impetus for all interested parties to discuss and agree a formal industry-wide approach to colour coding of inhaled therapies for the benefit of patients and carers and HCPs.

For more, read Is the ‘blue’ colour convention for inhaled reliever medications important? A UK-based survey of healthcare professionals and patients with airways disease, npj Primary Care Respiratory Medicine (2016) 26, 16081; doi:10.1038/npjpcrm.2016.81; published online 03 Nov 2016 npj Primary Care Respiratory Medicine.

National Review of Asthma Deaths (NRAD) launches ‘Why asthma still kills’ report and key recommendations

The National Review of Asthma Deaths has published it’s 'Why asthma still kills' report which is the result of a confidential enquiry that sought to understand the circumstances surrounding asthma deaths in the UK.

The review found deficiencies in both the routine care of asthma and the treatment of attacks; there was ‘room for improvement’ in the care received by 83% of those who died. Nearly half of people who died did so without seeking medical help or before emergency care could be provided.

Improvements are needed so that both patients and healthcare professionals are better at recognising the signs of deterioration in asthma, and are better at acting quickly when faced with a potentially fatal asthma attack. Dr Kevin Stewart, clinical director of the RCP’s clinical effectiveness and evaluation unit said: “It’s time to end our complacency about asthma, which can, and does, kill. There are important messages in this report for clinicians, for patients and their families and for policy makers. We haven’t paid enough attention to the importance of good routine asthma care by clinicians with the right training and experience and the part that patients themselves play in this. Too often we have also been slow to detect signs of poor asthma control and slow to act when these have been present, with tragic consequences for some families. We can and we must do better.”

The full report, its executive summaries and appendices can be found at www.rcplondon.ac.uk.

Causes of death statistics

Recently issued statistics on causes of death in the European Union reveal that although diseases of the circulatory system and cancer are by far the leading causes of death, respiratory diseases are the third most common cause.

With an average of 83 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants in 2012, chronic lower respiratory diseases were the most common cause of mortality followed by pneumonia. The highest standardised death rates from respiratory diseases among the EU Member States were recorded in the United Kingdom (142 per 100 000 inhabitants), Portugal (139 per 100 000 inhabitants), Ireland (134 per 100 000 inhabitants) and Denmark (124 per 100 000 inhabitants).

For more, visit http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat

Completion rates of an online COPD educational resource for nurses

The ERNA team recently presented a poster at the European Respiratory Society International Congress in Amsterdam.

The poster highlighted that nurses play an increasingly important role in the management of patients with COPD across Europe. However there are often skills gaps and lack of access to accessible education that is appropriate to the needs of the learner. The open access ERNA online resource was created to address this need for information, and the relatively low completion rate aligns to the tool being used more as a reference resource rather than a complete course. Online education is an acceptable mode of delivery and wider access to education for nurses and has the potential to improve patient care worldwide.

Please visit http://erj.ersjournals.com