Nursing management of paediatric asthma in emergency departments

Nursing management of paediatric asthma in emergency departments

Gemma Sheldon Fifth-year medical student, Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry, Universities of Exeter and Plymouth, England
Paul Anthony Heaton Consultant paediatrician, Yeovil District Hospital, Yeovil, England
Sarah Palmer Paediatric sister, Emergency department, Yeovil District Hospital, Yeovil, England
Siba Prosad Paul Consultant paediatrician, Torbay Hospital, Torquay, England

Childhood asthma is a complex disease which may be resistant to treatment and varies in its clinical presentation. The number of children admitted to emergency departments (EDs) with acute exacerbation of asthma is high and many are managed solely in the department. The correct assessment of the severity of an exacerbation can be achieved through competent history taking, examination and accurate recording of observations. Nurses working in EDs should be able to recognise the clinical signs and symptoms of acute asthma, assess severity and advise on appropriate management. Nurses should have some knowledge of first-line management and how and when to help deliver these therapies. They should also be able to guide patients in discharge and follow-up care, develop a rapport with families and educate them on topics such as trigger avoidance. The assessment and management of these patients as outlined in this article is based on the British Thoracic Society/Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network ( 2016 ).

Emergency Nurse. 26, 4, 32-42. doi: 10.7748/en.2018.e1770


Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and has been checked for plagiarism using automated software

Conflict of interest

None declared


To reuse this article or for information about reprints and permissions, please contact

Write for us

For information about writing for RCNi journals, contact

For author guidelines, go to


Prepare for revalidation: read this CPD article, answer the questionnaire and write a reflective account. For more information, go to

Want to read more?

Subscribe for unlimited access

Try 1 month’s access for just £1 and get:

Your subscription package includes:
  • Full access to the website and the online archive
  • Bi-monthly digital edition
  • RCNi Portfolio and interactive CPD quizzes
  • RCNi Learning with 200+ evidence-based modules
  • 10 articles a month from any other RCNi journal
Already subscribed? Log in

Alternatively, you can purchase access to this article for the next seven days. Buy now