Spirometry Testing for COPD Underused

MONDAY Aug. 20, 2007 -- Spirometry testing for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is not used often enough in the United States, says a study that found that only one-third of patients diagnosed with COPD ever received the testing.

The researchers noted that spirometry testing is a widely accepted and encouraged method of diagnosing COPD.

"Without proper testing, both under-diagnosis and misdiagnosis may occur, which can lead to improper therapies being prescribed. This study shows that we have a lot of work ahead of us in terms of raising awareness among both patients and physicians," study author Dr. MeiLan Han, of the division of pulmonary and critical care medicine at the University of Michigan, said in a prepared statement.

The study looked at 5,039 COPD patients aged 40 and older and found that only 32 percent had received spirometry testing, and only half of those patients received follow-up bronchodilator testing to confirm their COPD diagnosis.

The researchers said their findings contradict previous studies that said that more than 70 percent of doctors reported using spirometry to diagnose COPD.

"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," Han said.

The study was published in the August issue of Chest.

More information

The American Medical Association has more about COPD.

Posted: August 2007


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