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Diagnostic errors could occur due to new COPD guidelines

As a disease is studied over time, changes in understanding could affect guidelines for diagnosing that condition. Such is the case for chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder. As Connecticut health care providers become familiar with these changes, implementation could be important for minimizing the risk of misdiagnosing patients. Health risks can exist in the case of an erroneous diagnosis of COPD as well as in the case of failing to identify COPD in a patient.

A misdiagnosis can represent further health problems for an individual with pulmonary difficulties. Those diagnosed prior to the implementation of new standards could be among those who have been misdiagnosed with COPD, or they could be dealing with worsening health because of a failure to diagnose the condition. Experts have indicated that a failure to diagnose is more common with younger women and that an incorrect diagnosis of COPD is more common among elderly men.

Previous diagnostic standards for COPD were based on a fixed value after spirometer testing of a patient. However, the results for an individual can vary because of height, gender, age and other factors. By failing to account for these differences, the fixed diagnostic standard could provide inaccurate indicators to a health care professional. Unfortunately, the treatment that follows an incorrect diagnosis could lead to worse pulmonary health, especially if COPD treatment is administered when it is not needed.

A patient suffering from breathing difficulties might not realize that a misdiagnosis has occurred until serious health consequences have resulted. In such a case, it might be possible to file a medical malpractice claim if it can be shown that the provider was negligent in treating the patient. A lawyer may help with the investigation of such a case by gathering records and identifying symptoms that should have been given more attention by a health care provider.

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