Purpose of review: The purpose of this review is to describe recent evidence of the efficacy and effectiveness of clinical pathways for the assessment and management of severe acute asthma in children and adults in the emergency department (ED). The review will highlight examples of successful knowledge translation initiatives and their ability to support adherence to Best Practice Guidelines.
Recent findings: Recent studies reveal that management of pediatric and adult asthma in the ED setting often differs from that which is recommended in clinical practice guidelines. Single and multicenter North American studies have consistently found care gaps. Barriers to adherence to evidence-based management guidelines are numerous. Care pathways are knowledge translation tools that provide a means of applying knowledge translation principles to overcome these barriers, integrate guidelines into practice and optimize patient outcomes. Evidence from a recent Ontario multicenter asthma clinical pathway initiative is highlighted, demonstrating increased adherence to certain aspects of ED care, improved patient recollection of teaching done in the ED and increased referral rates. These findings strengthen the evidence supporting the development and implementation of standardized evidence-based asthma clinical pathways.
Summary: Gaps between current and best practices persist for the management of asthma in children and adults in North American EDs. There is robust evidence in support of ED asthma clinical pathways to optimize asthma care and outcomes in this setting.