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Inhaler devices

Posted on: 18 Jul 2017

Module summary

This key questions module will review the role of inhaler devices in the treatment of respiratory diseases.

Learning objectives

After completing the module, you should:

  • Describe the types of inhalers currently available, and highlight the similarities and differences between them.
  • Know the factors contributing to the effectiveness of inhaler therapy and ways to optimise treatment outcomes.
  • Define a ‘critical error’ and ‘non-critical error’ in inhaler technique.
  • Explain and demonstrate the importance of a correct inhaler technique to your patients.
  • Understand the patient requirements for an ideal inhaler device and support a personalised approach to inhaler therapy.

With over 100 different inhaled medication options available, the choice can be bewildering – for both you and your patients.

The RightBreathe website offers one convenient way to see information on every inhaler and spacer available in the UK. But how do you practically go about deciding with your patient what’s the right one for them?

As every clinician knows, the least effective therapy is the one the patient doesn’t take. This module will outline the patient- and inhaler-related factors that influence your prescribing choices, as well as ways to promote adherence.

In addition, it will check your understanding of teaching and checking good inhaler technique. Responsible inhaler prescribing is not complete until the patient is able to use their device correctly and consistently.

You might also be interested in our video resource “The importance of choosing the right inhaler“. In this short video, two clinicians discuss what influences inhaler choice, common inhaler technique errors and signposting patients to further information.

Author details

The content for this module was developed by Linda Pearce, a Respiratory Nurse Consultant from West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust.

List of abbreviations
BA-MDI Breath-actuated metered-dose inhaler DPI Dry-powder inhaler
CFCs Chlorofluorocarbons MDI Metered-dose inhaler
COPD Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease pMDI Pressurised metered-dose inhaler


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