Posted: April 2, 2020

Drug Wars: An Epic Tale of Asthma and Bacterial Pneumonia


This case study is based on real events that the author experienced with her 10-year-old daughter. Although the names have been changed, all of the events (symptoms, diagnoses, treatments, and types of healthcare professionals) are recorded exactly as they occurred. Both asthma and pneumonia are common in the United States (and globally). Asthma, in particular, is a condition where socioeconomic and ethnic disparities are common. The four "episodes" that constitute the case cover (1) a study of asthma triggers, incidence, and treatment; (2) side effects and possible medication errors associated with steroids; (3) causes, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of community-acquired bacterial pneumonia; and (4) the mechanism of action of two different antibiotics. The "epilogue" explores a few larger themes related to healthcare and public health (e.g., continuity of care, drug resistance, asthma prevention programs). The case could be used in an undergraduate, upper-level infectious disease, microbiology, public health, or physiology course or in a graduate-level health professions program.


Janet A. De Souza-Hart, PhD, MCPHS University

Learner Audience

Undergraduate Medical Education (UME)


Systems Based Practice

Resource Type(s)

Distance Learning - Asynchronous

Instructional Method(s)

Self-Directed Learning


Asthma, Pre-health, Undergraduate Faculty, Antibiotics, Bacteria, Steroids, Drug Resistance, Vaccines, Probiotics, Pneumonia