Improving Timeliness of β-Agonist and Corticosteroid Administration in Patients With Acute Wheezing

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Timely delivery of β-agonists and steroids to patients with acute recurrent wheezing is a key component of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommended emergency department (ED) asthma care. We conducted an ED improvement initiative to standardize asthma care and improve time to treatments.


Our multidisciplinary team identified key contributing factors to timeliness, developed key driver diagrams, implemented and refined a management pathway, designed and executed rapid cycle improvements, and implemented interventions. A time series design was used to analyze outcomes with baseline data and continuous monitoring during active intervention steps. The primary outcomes analyzed were the times to first β-agonist and steroid administration. Secondary outcomes included admission rate, ED length of stay, and ED revisits.


Assignment of the Pediatric Asthma Score, our initial pathway step, occurred in most patients within the first several months. Time to first β-agonist administration decreased from the baseline mean of 76 minutes to 27 minutes. Time to steroid administration decreased from the baseline mean of 108 minutes to 49 minutes. Mean monthly admission rate remained at 22% with no special cause variation identified. The ED revisit rate was not negatively impacted and, in most months, was 0%.


By standardizing asthma care in our ED and redesigning care delivery processes, care variation decreased and significant improvements in timeliness of β-agonist and steroid administration occurred.

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