Inpatient albuterol spacing as an indicator of discharge readiness

Burton H. Shen, Brianna Aoyama, Brian Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: In children admitted for asthma exacerbation, multiple evidence-based, clinical practice guidelines exist to identify readiness for discharge. At many institutions, weaning of albuterol is part of the discharge process, though presently there is limited evidence to guide best practice. We sought to determine how many children required escalation of care once placed on every 4-h dosing of albuterol. Methods: We performed a consecutive case series of pediatric patients between 5 and 18 years of age admitted to a single tertiary care center’s pediatric hospitalist service between April 2015 and April 2018 with a discharge diagnosis of asthma. Patients admitted to the intensive care unit (PICU) or a subspecialty service were excluded, as has been done previously. Time between albuterol administrations was tracked. “Treatment escalation” was defined as when a patient required more frequent albuterol more dosing after previously tolerating albuterol doses separated by more than 3.5 h. Results: A total of 331 patients met inclusion criteria; 136 were female (41.1%), and the average age was 8.8 years. Twenty-six of the 331 patients (7.8%) required escalation of albuterol therapy. Eleven patients returned to the emergency department (ED) following discharge, 2 of which had experienced treatment escalation while admitted. Conclusions: Our case series showed that most patients were safe to discharge after spacing albuterol treatments to 4 h, with few returns to the ED and readmissions. Albuterol spacing to every 4 h once appears to be a reasonable discharge criterion, but future studies are needed to determine if this is a safe and efficient.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)57-62
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Asthma
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2023


  • asthma
  • discharge
  • hospital
  • inpatient
  • Pediatric

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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