New York patients who show symptoms of COPD may have been tested for it. COPD is short for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and its symptoms include labored breathing, wheezing and coughing. Even though these symptoms are common and are sometimes a sign of illnesses other than COPD, some hospitals fail to conduct the proper screenings for COPD, and they make the diagnosis anyway. This means that the lung illness is commonly overdiagnosed.
The screening that helps to diagnose COPD is called a spirometry assessment, and it helps doctors evaluate the state of a patient’s lung function. It is not required that doctors use this test in order to verify that a patient has COPD. In fact, many doctors rely on historical information, such as a patient’s smoking and family history, demographics and a physical exam to make the diagnosis. Nonetheless, a study shows that not using the test resulted in doctors overdiagnosing the illness. The authors of the study stated that without spirometry, physical and historical information is not enough to make a definitive diagnosis.
The researchers investigated a group of over 6,000 patients who were diagnosed with COPD. Of those patients, they further studied a subset of 504 patients who had a spirometry assessment. The authors of the study found that of the 504 patients who had a spirometry assessment, 69.2 percent of them had their COPD diagnosis verified. The rest of the patients in that group were found to have other conditions or normal test results.
Patients who have received harmful and unnecessary medical treatment because their doctor made a misdiagnosis might choose to discuss the issue with a medical malpractice attorney. Lawyers who focus on cases involving medical errors might be able to help patients who were forced to pay for damaging or needless treatments while their actual illness worsened.