Asthma UK community forum
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spoken to like a child

Is any one else being spoken to as though they are a child by pharmacy assistants?

asthmatic for 45 years, medic, self educated about asthma via the thoracic society.

I don't appreciate being asked by a unqualified , patrnising,. civilian, in a voice more suitable for a 5 year old if i knew how to use my inhaler?

I understand the big push to support asthmatics and ensure they are educated to best look after themselves but just because we have a lung condition it does not mean we have a learning disability.

Lets get information out in a way that is best suited to adults.

5 Replies


Feel the same. I'm nearly 37, had asthma since i was 19 and am also a nurse. Background of working in general medicine, oncology and intensive care.

In the last week in the pharmacy I've been asked if I know how/when to use my inhaler and also told that it would be better if I didn't use a spacer as I'd get more drug without it.

I switched off completely at that point!!!!



I am also a qualified nurse and had asthma for 21 years, just been discharged from hospital after 15 days and an ITU admission. Whilst back on the ward was asked by a junior member of staff to show how i use my inhaler, they then proceeded to tell me it was wrong as i made the spacer make a noise. Tried to explain that it is the only way i can breath at the moment and was told by the asthma team it was more than adequate. Huffed at me and turned round.

Was not impressed.


I once watched a doctor watching a patients inhaler (with spacer) technique, and the patient was told that they were t making a loud enough noise with the spacer.....they were then taking these huge breaths to make it nice and loud.....I watched on in disbelief and then got the asthma nurse to correct the patient.

I also was given an inhaler by an idiot doctor in A&E who was asking me to hold my breath for ten secs. Not really gonna happen that!! I know that'd be lovely and ideal, but I don't use inhalers in a bad attack anyway, so that's really not the time to test my technique!!

Lots of pharmacists are really patronising with me, I am on some unusual combinations of meds and they just won't be tolerant of that. They complain about things and I then just go off on a long and detailed explanation if EXACTLY why me and my doctors have made that decision we have made. If that was that, fine, but no, they then go on to ring my GP, who then has to ring my consultant who then rings the pharmacy and turns out I was right! I like that they are cautious as doctors do make mistakes, but there comes a point where it's silly. They also keep trying to do medication reviews, on about prescription number ten they kinda get bored as I clearly understand my meds more than enough!


Sitting on the fence, its a difficult one, as the pharmacist/pharmacy assistant doesn't know you from adam. And a vast proportion of asthmatics DONT use their inhalers properly, and dont know how to, because they havent been shown or they havent listened, or they havent understood. And most of them dont have a learning disability either, not sure why that was relevant... plenty of people without a learning disability dont understand their condition, their medication, or how to take it appropriately.

Yes it can be frustrating when pharmacists query stuff, but its part of their job, its to maintain patient safety (doctors do make mistakes) and ultimately they are responsible and accountable for what they dispense. I've just changed GP surgeries, and the surgery pharmacist queried most of my meds, as I am on some off licence, and some odd combinations, and some odd doses. After discussion with me, and my GP it was fine. He was doing his job.. and ultimately thats to keep patients safe.

I am also a nurse, but that doesn't necessarily make one an expert on every condition and every medication, nor does the pharmacist necessarily know that Im a nurse or my level of education about my meds and condition.


Unfortunately for a lot of us, I think this sort of attitude is encountered in several aspects of our lifestyles, from the workplace to A&E and a lot of places in between. But as frustrating this can be, I think I have to agree with nursefurby, because most of the time people are just trying to be helpful.

I've had the same asthma nurse for over a decade now and she still makes me demonstrate my inhaler technique whenever I see her, so I guess it's just part of NHS policies and protocol to ensure that things are being done right, regardless of mental capacity or ability, and even if we've taken these meds all our lives!

But I don't recall being told by a member of pharmacy staff how to take my medication, so I'd probably be just as annoyed as you if it happened to me because a situation like that can be quite embarrassing and/or humiliating if there are other people around.

I think - in this case - it is simply a matter of a good deed being conveyed in the wrong way, but I can certainly empathise with you!


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