BACKGROUND--Nebulised salbutamol can now be administered by ambulance personnel to patients with severe acute asthma en route to hospital. This treatment, however, is not yet available in all ambulances. The safety and effectiveness of allowing ambulance crews to initiate treatment with nebulised salbutamol has been assessed in patients with acute severe asthma. METHODS--After a basic training course in the assessment of asthma and the use of a nebuliser, ambulance crews initiated treatment with nebulised salbutamol in asthmatic patients under the age of 40 years. Airflow obstruction was measured before and after treatment with a peak flow meter. A subjective assessment of any change in the patient's condition was also made. RESULTS--Nebuliser treatment was associated with a significant increase in peak flow in almost 80% of patients who had recordable values before and after treatment. The mean percentage increase in peak flow was 56.5%. Subjective assessments correlated well with peak flow measurements. No unwanted side effects were recorded. CONCLUSIONS--Nebulised salbutamol is an effective and safe treatment for acute asthma when administered by ambulance personnel after a short training course.
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