Placebo inhalers, large volume spacers and peak flow meters are used routinely to teach correct technique and monitor compliance with treatment.These devices are routinely re-used and in 2005 theBritish Thoracic Society guidancerecommended that all healthcare providers conduct local risk assessments of their practice.
Peak flow meters and spacers are medical devices and are subject to MHRA regulation that items marked as single use must not be reused. However placebo inhalers are not medical devices as they do not contain an active drug and are not covered by MHRA regulation.
The authors supply an example of a risk assessment tool that has been used in their trust. They suggest that ideally all respiratory devices should be designated as ‘single patient use’ however the supply and cost of placebo inhalers is a barrier and manufacturers are reluctant to divert resources from producing active inhalers to meet this need.
Journal of Infection Prevention (2009);10, 1, 16-22
Related article on nursingtimes.net: Placeboinhaler devices and infection risks