Ellis1 and Gareth Walters1
1Heart of England
NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham, United Kingdom
accounts for 1
in 6 cases of new onset adult asthma. Better health and employment
outcomes from occupational asthma are achieved with rapid diagnosis and
removal from exposure to or avoidance of the causative agent1. Despite
this, occupational asthma remains poorly recognized by healthcare
professionals, demonstrated previously in UK primary care2. We aimed to
determine whether an occupational cause is considered in adult
asthmatic patients when attending hospital.
We assessed medical records of 200 working-age adults with asthma
symptoms. One hundred patients presented to the emergency department
(ED) and a further 100 to the acute medical unit (AMU) at 3 city
hospital sites at Heart of England NHS Trust, Birmingham, UK, between
April 2015 and November 2016.
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The average age of patients was 33.6 years (28.3 in ED, 38.9 in AMU),
42% of whom were male. Only 26% were asked about their occupation (ED
20%, AMU 31%), 58.8% of whom were employed. Of these, 67% received
enquiry about the nature of their work (ED 50%, AMU 75%). Smoking
status was not established in 27% of cases (ED 41%, AMU 13%).
The results demonstrate that health care professionals do not routinely
assess risk of occupational asthma in working-age adults when not
prompted to do so. Re-education of health care professionals and
standardisation of admission documentation to include occupation
history are proposed ways to tackle this issue.