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Study says COPD testing is not measuring up

suggests a possible difference between what physicians say and what they actually do. Also of particular concern was that, according to this study, spirometry testing in those patients who were 75 years and older was performed less frequently, with only 28% of patients in this population receiving spirometry. Researchers point to the issue of ageism and question whether or not a patients age influences a physicians decision to order diagnostic testing.

The bad news is that we have significant room for improvement. The good news is that we have to know a problem exists before we can fix it, and now we know, said Dr. Han. Other good news is that women and men fared virtually the same when it came to spirometry testing, despite previous reports suggesting women were tested less often.

COPD is currently the fourth leading cause of death in the United States, and the economic burden of this disease is measured in the billions of dollars but, despite this, it is so often underdiagnosed or misclassified, said Dr. Han. Prior to this study, I did not truly appreciate the magnitude of spirometry underutilization, but my hope is that this study will lead to more correct diagnoses and better care of patients.

Spirometry testing is an inexpensive, quick, and painless procedure, which is necessary to confirm a COPD diagnosis, said Mark J. Rosen, MD, FCCP, President of the American College of Chest Physicians. In order to make a shift in the underutilization of spirometry, physicians need to use all of the resources available to them, and patients need to actively inquire about their care.

The National Lung Health Education Program suggests that current and former smokers aged 45 years and older, as well as any patient who experiences cough, shortness of breath with exertion, or wheezing, ask their doctor about having a spirometry test performed.


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Contact: Jennifer Stawarz
jstawarz@chestnet.org
847-498-8306
American College of Chest Physicians
13-Aug-2007


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