Patients with severe asthma were choosing not to use the emergency department (ED) in extremis and were self-medicating when experiencing severe asthma, putting their lives at risk. This local issue reflected a nationwide situation. The purpose of this paper is to better understand the reasons behind patients’ reluctance to attend ED and to consider practical solutions in a structured way.
Systems thinking (soft systems methodology) was used to examine the issues resulting in this reluctance to attend the ED. Once this tame (well-defined) problem was revealed, a potential solution was developed in co-production with patients.
Patients feared attending the ED and felt vulnerable while in the ED for several reasons. This appeared to be a well-defined and solvable problem. The solution proposed was an asthma patient passport (APP), which increased patient’s confidence in their ability to communicate their needs while in severe distress. The APP decreases (from 12 to 5 steps) the work patients had to do to achieve care. The APP project is currently being evaluated.
The APP should be offered to all people with severe asthma.
By revisiting systems thinking and identifying problems, a solution was identified. Although methods such as soft systems methodology have limitations when used in wicked (difficult or impossible to resolve) problems, such methods still have merit in tame problems and were applicable in this case to fully understand the issues, and to design practical solutions.
Conflict of interest: none declared. This work was unfunded.
The authors would like to acknowledge Stacian Gilbert, Rebecca Bunce, Janice Jones, Christeen Barnaby (asthma service users); Shenagh Hume (Allergy CNS), Fionna Moore (CEO, LAS) Katherine Henderson (ED Consultant), Tom Sagdahl (ED Matron), Nikki Helder (ED PDN) David Jackson (Consultant respiratory physician).
Newell, K., Corrigan, C., Punshon, G. and Leary, A. (2017), "Severe asthma: emergency care patient driven solutions", International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance, Vol. 30 No. 7, pp. 628-637. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJHCQA-09-2016-0127Download as .RIS
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