October 22, 2005
University of Portland
School of Nursing
Childhood asthma affected an estimated 5 million children under the age of 15 during the year of 1995. The diagnosis of this disease is on a continual rise in the United States, and it is the responsibility of all health care providers to busy themselves in providing the proper patient education, treatment, and preventative measures available to prevent unnecessary suffering caused by asthma (Improving Childhood Asthma, n.d.). Throughout the next few pages the following essential issues will be: defining more closely this patient population, identifying organizations that provide care for this population, discussing methods in which this care is financed, and finally suggesting mechanisms in which nursing can impact this health care delivery model. Addressing the aforementioned essential issues concerning childhood asthma will provide the necessary knowledge to health care providers treating this monster childhood disease.
Identification of the patient population being served
The patient population focus for this paper will be children with asthma. This chronic lung disease, grouped into the COPD class of diseases, affects an estimated 5 million children every year (Improving Childhood Asthma, n.d.). "Asthma is a growing health problem in the United States, particularly in inner-city African-American and Latino populations" (Asthma: A Concern for Minority, 2001). The death rate for these inner-city patients is three times that of whites. Noted as contributing factors to the increase in death rates are: low socioeconomic status, lack of access to medical care, substandard housing that increases exposure to certain indoor allergens, lack of education, and the failure to take prescription medicine appropriately (Asthma: A Concern for Minority, 2001). Health care providers involved in the care of this specific patient population must focus on the contributing factors yielding vulnerability to this group.
A focused approach to the treatment of childhood asthma should not exclude from the affected patient population but instead be used as a guide to provide appropriate and effective care to any noted high risk patient. Specific symptoms of an asthmatic attack can include chest tightness, wheezing, coughing, and a sensation of shortness of breath. These symptoms are often precipitated by various triggers; including but not limited to viral respiratory infections, exposure to allergens (such as house dust mites and cockroaches), exposure to airway irritants, and exercise. Under normal circumstances environmental modifications along with the proper use of inhalers asthma sufferers can control, if not prevent, attacks (Asthma: A Concern for Minority, 2001).
Organizations that comprise the health care delivery system
"Childhood asthma is a national public health problem that challenges not only the entire health system but also school systems and the many public and private organizations that track the effects of this illness, provide education and other community-based programs, and fund research into the causes of asthma" (Improving Childhood Asthma, n.d.). Considering the multi-faceted health care delivery system for the childhood asthma patient, improvement of care will require resources, research, time, and implementation from all of these various organizations. The national government contributes resources that are more monetarily focused and will be discussed in more detail later. Despite the many resources the national government provides, the majority of the health care delivery system for the child with asthma falls on the backs of state and local governments. Under Federal Law, hospitals can not turn away basic care to any patient regardless of the ability to pay for services provided.
Hospitals funded by the state, privately owned hospitals, and local [county...