The use of bronch odilators in the prehospital EMS setting is common. This study examined the safety of the administration of 2.5 mg albuterol using a hand-held nebulizer for the treatment of such patients.
A total of 55 patients were included. Following treatment, peak expiratory flow rates (PEFR) increased a mean of 27 L/min, ventilatory rate decreased four breaths/min, heart rate decreased slightly, and systolic blood pressure increased 10 mmHg. Five of the 53 patients in whom cardiac rhythm was monitored, had premature ventricular complexes prior to treatment; only one did following therapy. Breath sounds improved in 61% and were unchanged in 39%. Breathing was reported by the patient as improved in 51 of the 53 (93%) and only one felt worse. Adverse reactions were reported in 15%, but none were severe. This study shows that albuterol (2.5 mg) administration by hand-held nebulizer is both safe and efficacious in the prehospital setting.