At least two thirds of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) do not receive lung function testing that is recommended for the accurate diagnosis and effective management of the disease, suggesting that the majority of patients are diagnosed with COPD based on symptoms alone. New research published in the June issue of CHEST, the peer-reviewed journal of the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP), finds that only one third of patients recently diagnosed with COPD underwent spirometry, a noninvasive lung function test, to confirm COPD or to manage their condition. Current national guidelines recommend spirometry for the diagnosis and management of COPD.

“Spirometry testing is necessary for the diagnosis and staging of COPD, yet the majority of patients with COPD are being diagnosed based on symptoms and smoking history,” said Todd A. Lee, PharmD, PhD, Hines VA Hospital, Hines, Ill, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago. “While these patients may indeed have COPD, spirometry is needed to make a definite diagnosis. As a result, patients who do not have COPD may be receiving unnecessary chronic therapy.”