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National Asthma Patient Alliance

The Asthma Patient Bill of Rights is available in PDF format below:

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The Asthma Patient Bill of Rights

As a patient with asthma, you have the right to:

1. Strive for complete control of your asthma.*
Complete control of asthma means exactly what it sounds like - a life free of symptoms and limitations. You should be aiming for:

Zero symptoms
Zero nighttime awakenings
Zero time lost from school, work and play
Zero exercise limitations
Zero emergency room visits
Zero time spent in hospital because of asthma
Zero side effects from asthma medications

2. Discuss your personal targets in asthma management with your doctor or health-care advisor.

3. Access accurate and up-to-date information/advice about asthma and its management, and participate in decisions about your care.

4. Access appropriate medications as needed.

5. Access asthma and health-care services in a timely manner, including physician appointments and treatments in hospitals anywhere in Canada.

6. Access regular asthma assessments with scheduled follow-up visits without waiting for an emergency.

7. Access spirometry/lung-function testing in the primary health-care setting.

8. Access referral to an allergist for assessment and testing when required.

9. Access asthma education programs anywhere in Canada.

10. Live and work in smoke-free environments with no exposure to second-hand smoke.

As a patient with asthma, you have the responsibility to:

1. Take an active role in managing your asthma with the support of your health-care team. For the most part, control of your asthma rests with you. You are the one managing it on a day-to-day basis.

2. Stay informed about asthma and know your numbers

How is your lung function? Peak flow measurements and spirometry are simple breathing or lung-function tests. Most children can do them by the age of six. Lung-function testing is a useful tool with which you and your health-care provider can assess the severity of your asthma. The results help determine the degree to which your asthma is controlled, and the type and amount of medication you need.
How much rescue medication do you use? Many people underestimate how often they have asthma symptoms. The amount of rescue medication you use is a good way to gauge your degree of asthma control. If you are using your reliever medication regularly, your asthma may not be controlled. You definitely should not need your reliever medication more than two times a week. If you are using it more often, consult with your doctor.
How many triggers or allergies do you have? Many people with asthma have allergic ‘triggers’ that make their asthma worse. Improve your asthma control by avoiding or reducing exposure to your allergens/triggers/irritants. Ask your doctor if you need to be tested for allergies and talk about medications that may help deal with your allergies.

3. Take control

Take your medication. It sounds simple, but many people don’t take their medications properly. When used as prescribed, the asthma medications are safe and effective, so use them. If you’re not sure how, get help from your doctor, nurse, pharmacist or asthma educator.
Make and keep regular asthma appointments. Asthma is a chronic disease. One visit to a clinic or doctor’s office or emergency room is not going to ‘fix’ it. You need to see your doctor on a regular basis. How often you see your doctor depends on the severity of your asthma and level of asthma control. Make sure that each time you leave the office or clinic, your next appointment is booked.
Make emergency room visits unnecessary. With complete asthma control, no one with asthma should have to go to an emergency room (ER). That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go to an ER if you feel you need to, but an ER visit is a sign of treatment failure. You and your primary-care doctor, perhaps with the help of a specialist, need to determine what went wrong. If you go to an ER because of your asthma, make a doctor’s appointment as soon as you get home.

4. Follow a healthy lifestyle that includes adequate sleep, balanced nutrition and regular physical activity.

Health Care Providers have the responsibility to:

1. Be familiar with the most current Canadian Adult and Pediatric Asthma Consensus Guidelines.

2. Update your knowledge about asthma, including its management on a regular basis through continuing medical education.

3. Consider all patients’ personal circumstances of asthma management to help them achieve asthma-control goals. Consensus Guidelines.

4. Be "partners in care" with patients, providing them with appropriate and up-to-date information/advice about asthma and empowering them to make informed choices.

5. Build relationships with asthma patients based on mutual respect.

Governments have the responsibility to:

1. Ensure timely access to proper care for all patients with asthma, including those in remote, isolated and First Nations communities.

2. Ensure access to regular asthma assessments and spirometry or lungfunction testing in primary health care.

3. Ensure access to asthma education and self-management programs.

4. Ensure equality of asthma care. Recognize cultural, linguistic, and social barriers to proper care and strive to remove them.

5. Address outdoor and indoor environmental issues affecting the health of patients with asthma.

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*According to the guidelines of the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA)


Despite the progress made, approximately 20 children and 250 adults die from asthma each year. It is estimated that more than 80 per cent of asthma deaths could be prevented with proper asthma education.


In Canada, asthma is the leading cause of absenteeism from school and the third leading cause of work loss.

Asthma Society of Canada - June 2017