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Possible misdiagnoses of COPD

Pennsylvania residents may know that chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a common ailment in the United States and around the world. A recent study suggests that older men may be diagnosed too often with COPD while young women may be underdiagnosed. This problem might be related to diagnostic guidelines adopted for use in 2001 by the Global Initiative for Obstructive Lung Disease.

COPD is a debilitating, progressive lung disease that causes obstruction of the airways, resulting in coughing and difficulty breathing. COPD may lead to serious complications and has a high mortality rate associated with it. It is said to affect about 210 million people around the world, with approximately 27 million cases in the U.S. Smoking is a primary cause.

The 2001 GOLD standard for diagnosing COPD involves measuring the amount of air an individual exhales during the first forced breath after inhalation. This is called the expiratory volume at one second or FEV1. The total amount of air expelled over three seconds is the accumulation of the expiratory volume at one, two and three seconds. Gold set the value for diagnosis of less than 0.7 at the one-second mark divided by the total expiratory capacity. The United States uses this value.

According to some international groups and experts, the current value may lead to overdiagnosis in older men and a failure to diagnose COPD in young women. The groups are seeking a modification. Not diagnosing COPD may lead to health issues and delay preventive strategies in early cases.

Those who were misdiagnosed with COPD or left undiagnosed may wish to speak to a medical malpractice attorney. The consequences could include a worsened condition, leading to additional medical bills and other damages. An attorney will often look at the patient's medical records and obtain the opinions of experts in making a determination as to whether filing a lawsuit for damages against the responsible practitioner is advisable.

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