Doctors missing chances to diagnose COPD early
A new study from the UK Department of Health estimates that 835,00 people in the UK are diagnosed with COPD, with a further 2.2 million living with the condition, but undiagnosed.
The research team conducted a large systematic review, analyzing the medical records of 38,859 patients aged 40 years and older who had been diagnosed with COPD between 1990 and 2009.
The researchers saw that 85 percent of these patients had visited their doctor or a clinic at least once with respiratory symptoms in the five years before diagnosis. Going further back, the data showed that 58 percent of patients first reported symptoms six to 10 years before diagnosis and 42 percent in the 11-15 years before diagnosis. The study authors believe that these reported symptoms represent missed opportunities to proceed with further testing that could have resulted in a COPD diagnosis.
In the conclusion to their study, the authors suggest that it might be easier to identify people at risk of COPD by systematically auditing patient records rather than only checking medical history when a patient goes to their doctor with symptoms.