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Current COPD guidelines may lead to patient misdiagnosis

According to a new research study, the guidelines currently used to diagnose chronic obstructive pulmonary disease may be leading to the misdiagnosis of certain patients in Arizona and around the world. The authors of the study, which was published in a British peer-reviewed medical journal in July, are calling for the guidelines to be modified to correct the issue.

The study shows that up to 13 percent of people diagnosed with COPD, which is a primary cause of death from disease in the United States, under the current guidelines are being misdiagnosed. The Global Initiative for Obstructive Lung Disease guidelines were introduced in 2001 as an alternative to a diagnostic method known as "lower limits of normal," or LLN. The authors of the study discovered there are discrepancies between the two diagnostic methods. For instance, in the United Kingdom, the GOLD method estimates that 22 percent of people over the age of 40 have COPD, but the LLN method only estimates the percentage to be 13 percent. Also, the GOLD method misses one in eight cases of airflow obstruction in young women when compared to the LLN method.

Overall, the researchers believe that the GOLD method has the effect of over-diagnosing older men with COPD while under-diagnosing young women. In their opinion, the GOLD method needs to be modified to correct the problem and the LLN method should be used when assessing potential COPD patients in the meantime.

Amisdiagnosis as well as a failure to diagnose can both have severe and deadly consequences for patients. Any Arizona resident who believes a doctor or hospital has failed to detect or misdiagnosed their illness may benefit by consulting with an attorney. In some cases, it may be advisable to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the negligent party or parties seeking compensation.

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