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COPD guidelines cause certain patients to be misdiagnosed

According to a new study, the current guidelines for diagnosing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are causing patients to be misdiagnosed in New Mexico and worldwide. The recently-published study calls for the guidelines to be modified.

The authors of the study claim that up to 13 percent of people diagnosed with COPD, which is the most common lung disease in the world, under the current guidelines are misdiagnosed. In 2001, the Global Initiative for Obstructive Lung Disease, or GOLD, diagnostic threshold was introduced as an alternative to the world-recognized diagnostic method called the "lower limits of normal," or LLN. According to the study, the GOLD threshold estimates the prevalence of COPD to be around 22 percent in people over the age of 40 in the United Kingdom, but the estimate is only 13 percent when using the LLN method.

The authors believe that the GOLD threshold overdiagnoses older men with COPD and underdiagnoses young women, with one in eight cases of airflow obstruction missed among that subset. They believe the GOLD definition should be modified to address those discrepancies and that clinicians should use the LLN method when assessing potential COPD patients.

The failure to diagnose a disease can have severe and deadly consequences for New Mexico patients. Anyone who believes that a physician or hospital has failed to detect their illness, such as COPD or cancer, may wish to consult with an attorney. Such a failure can lead to the spread of disease and a worsened condition, causing extensive medical expenses and pain and suffering. In some cases, it may be advisable to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the responsible party or parties seeking compensation.

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