This site is intended for health professionals only

Call to retest lung-disease patients over misdiagnosis fears

19 November 2008

Share this article

Many GPs could be misdiagnosing patients suffering from major lung diseases, a charity has warned.

Anyone over the age of 35 with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) should be retested to ensure they have been diagnosed with the right condition, according to the British Lung Foundation.

A survey of 776 GPs for the charity revealed 80% found differentiating between asthma and COPD quite or very “challenging”.

COPD is the umbrella term for a number of lung conditions including chronic bronchitis and emphysema.

The study comes on the same day a national audit was published, which found COPD services often fall short of national standards and quality varies considerably across the NHS.

That research was carried out by the Royal College of Physicians, the British Thoracic Society and the British Lung Foundation.

COPD is the fifth biggest killer in the UK, the second most common cause of emergency admission to hospital and one of the most costly inpatient conditions treated within the NHS, the report said.

A British Lung Foundation (BLF) survey found one in 10 GPs did not have appropriately trained staff to carry out or interpret spirometry testing, which measures how much air can be expelled from the lungs.

Less than a quarter (24%) of GPs questioned were trained to carry out spirometry testing themselves, and 26% did not have the training to interpret spirometry tests.

Copyright © Press Association 2008

British Lung Foundation