Study: Intervene early with ailing COPD patients

Sunday, June 27, 2004

June 28, 2004

NEW YORK - A new study presents some hard evidence that HMEs who practice disease state management on respiratory patients do indeed save the healthcare system money.
As DSM proponents maintain, people with COPD should be on the lookout for worsening symptoms and not delay seeing a doctor. Early treatment improves recovery and reduces the likelihood of hospitalization, according to a June 15 study in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
"Treatment of COPD exacerbations improves outcomes," Dr. Jadwiga A. Wedzicha and colleagues from St. Bartholomew's Hospital, London, write in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. "However, responses to treatment are variable, and patients with COPD often delay presentation or fail to seek therapy."
The researchers studied 128 patients with COPD, who experienced 1099 episodes of worsening symptoms. Only 658 of these episodes were reported to a physician, according to Reuters.
On average, patients waited over three days to see a doctor and begin treatment. The recovery time averaged nearly 11 days.
The team found that the earlier the treatment, the sooner recovery occurred.
Patients who did not report their exacerbations to a physician were more likely to require emergency hospitalization, and had a poorer quality of life than those who took steps to take care of the problem.
"There is a vital role for new, more efficacious treatments for COPD exacerbations," Wedzicha and colleagues note. "However, by optimizing the use of existing exacerbation therapies and by improving patients' awareness of exacerbations and access to healthcare, we can improve the current excessive burden of exacerbation-related morbidity and mortality."