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New COPD guidelines may lead to misdiagnosis

New research indicates that new guidelines for diagnosing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, may be causing patients to be misdiagnosed in Wisconsin and worldwide. A recently-published study calls for the guidelines to be modified in order to correct the problem.

According to the authors of the study, up to 13 percent of people diagnosed with COPD, one of the most prevalent lung diseases in the world, under the new guidelines are being misdiagnosed. In 2001, the Global Initiative for Obstructive Lung Disease, or GOLD, was introduced as an alternative to a diagnostic method known as "lower limits of normal," or LLN. Researchers found there are discrepancies between the two diagnostic methods. For example, the GOLD method estimates the prevalence of COPD to be approximately 22 percent in people over the age of 40 in the United Kingdom, but the LLN method estimates that only 13 percent of people in that group have COPD. Meanwhile, the GOLD method misses one in eight cases of airflow obstruction in young women compared to the LLN method.

Overall, the authors of the study believe the GOLD method over-diagnoses older men with COPD and under-diagnoses young women. They believe that the GOLD method should be modified to correct those issues and clinicians should use the LLN method in the meantime.

When a medical professional fails to diagnose an illness, it can potentially have severe and deadly consequences for patients. Any Wisconsin resident who believes a physician has failed to detect or misdiagnosed their illness may wish to consult with an attorney. Depending on the details of the case, it may be possible to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the negligent practitioner seeking compensation for the damages that have been incurred.

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