The natural history and outcome of 20 asthmatics who required mechanical ventilation is reviewed. Seven of these patients died. The majority of the deaths could have been prevented if: (1) The patient had been followed-up in an asthma clinic and had been fully informed of the danger of an asthmatic attack. (2) The medical staff had been trained more fully in the evaluation and management of a severe asthma attack. Careful sequential assessment will enable timely transfer of patients with severe bronchial asthma to a unit experienced in their management.
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