Asthma Care

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Asthma is a chronic lung condition that affects roughly 1 in 10 young people in the United States. Consistent treatment is very important for maintaining the quality of life of children with asthma. If asthma isn't kept under control, it can lead to asthma attacks, school absences and hospitalization. With the proper medications and care, however, children with asthma can stay healthy and participate in the full range of everyday activities, including sports.

Controlling asthma after a hospitalization requires several types of medications and lots of planning and watchfulness. To measure how well our doctors and nurses care for children with asthma who have been admitted to the hospital, we look at three main components of care:

  • Fast-acting drugs. Medications known as relievers provide short-term relief from asthma symptoms. All children who have been hospitalized for asthma should receive these drugs when they leave the hospital.

  • Systemic corticosteroids. These medications fight lung inflammation and are used to prevent asthma attacks and get symptoms under control. As with relievers, all asthma patients should leave the hospital with these drugs.

  • Home management plan. Asthma patients and their families should leave the hospital with a detailed plan for managing the child's condition at home. This plan includes information on controlling asthma triggers, what to do if an asthma attack occurs, and when to use the various medications. It also involves scheduling a follow-up appointment at the hospital.

How are we doing?

Our track record in providing reliever and corticosteroid medications is excellent. Since 2008, 100 percent of the asthma inpatients randomly sampled in our audits have received those medications.

We've been less consistent when it comes to providing home management plans. We aim to provide comprehensive home management plans to at least 90 percent of our patients, but we've fallen short of that goal in recent years. In 2013, for instance, 56 percent of patients received all of the recommended plan elements. We've shown improvement so far in 2014, with 83 percent of patients receiving a complete plan:

Home Management Plans
% of Patients Ages 2-17 Receiving Complete Plans

(Last updated: March 30, 2015. All charts show most recent available data.)

What are we doing to improve?

Our inpatient asthma nurse practitioner has been working with all of our inpatient units — not just our specialized asthma unit — to ensure that we develop comprehensive care plans. We've also put in place an ongoing monthly program to educate staff on the importance of providing patients with a comprehensive home management plan.

How do we compare to other hospitals?

We submit our asthma care data to the Children's Hospital Association, which tracks the same information from other children's hospitals in a nationwide database.

We compare our own performance to the national average among all the other hospitals in the database. As mentioned above, we achieve 100% medication coverage, but the percentage of our patients who receive complete home management plans is below the national average:

Home Management Plans
% of Patients Ages 2-17 Receiving Complete Plans


(Last updated: March 30, 2015)

For more information on our asthma care, visit our Allergy and Asthma Program.

We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

Boston Children's Hospital 300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115 617-355-6000 | 800-355-7944

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