Background: Asthma is a significant public health problem that results in 1.8 million annual emergency department (ED) visits. Many ED visits may be prevented with specialized asthma care. Objective: To describe US asthma centers with a long-term goal of exploring their potential role in improving outcomes for ED patients with acute asthma. Methods: We conducted initial online surveys in 2004. One survey identified asthma centers and their directors through reports by emergency medicine researchers and fellowship directors (allergy/immunology, pulmonary, and critical care) at US hospitals. A second survey asked asthma center directors to describe their asthma center. Follow-up surveys were conducted 2 years later in 2006. Results: Eighty-seven (49%) of the 177 hospitals surveyed have asthma clinics. Although spirometry was available on the day of the visit at all asthma centers surveyed in 2006, only 21% (95% confidence interval, 11%-34%) of sites reported that at least 90% of visits per week included a spirometry test. Only one quarter (26%; 95% confidence interval, 15%-40%) of asthma centers reported that at least 90% of patients undergo a skin or blood test for environmental allergens during 1 of their visits. Half of center directors (53%) were unsure of the approximate number of annual ED visits for acute asthma at their hospital. No significant measured changes were noted in asthma centers between 2004 and 2006. Conclusions: Asthma centers are heterogenous, with different services available. Although challenges remain, collaboration between EDs and asthma centers may contribute to improved asthma outcomes and merits further study.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine