Here’s some top tips for hospitals:
- Make sure that any inhalers you dispose of are recycled. A recycling scheme is widely available in the UK run by GlaxoSmithKline. This saves hospital money because you don’t pay for diposal of the medicines, and saves greenhouse gases as the propellants are recycled (along with the plastic and aluminium). www.completethecycle.eu
- If you have patient information leaflets, make sure you include information on how to recycle inhalers. If you don’t have patient information leaflets – make some!
- Ensure your hospital formulary has a full range of dry powder and metered dose inhalers in stock. This gives you more options for selecting the right inhaler for your patient, and offering low global-warming-potential choices. Make sure you know the difference between an Easi-breathe (breath-actuated MDI) and Easyhaler (DPI)
- If you have accurate digital scales on the ward consider weighing patients’ Ventolin inhalers to check how many doses are remaining. You may be surprised to find that some patients are unknowingly using empty Ventolin inhalers (12% when we checked), and that patients think their inhaler is empty, even when it is quite full. Weigh Ventolin inhalers before disposing of them too.
- If you can’t recycle used inhalers, see if you can incinerate them with medical waste. The HFAs degrade into far less potent greenhouse gases.
- Prioritise inhaler technique training in your hospital education programs for doctors and nurses. Make every puff count!