Consultants clarify COPD diagnosis

GPs should delegate diagnosis of whether a patient has asthma or COPD to consultant pulmonologists, claim Dutch researchers.

Patient history and spirometry readings were enough to clarify diagnosis when GPs were uncertain if a patient had COPD or asthma, says the team.

For the latest study, two pulmonologists were given written histories about 80 patients with possible asthma or COPD and asked to make a diagnosis.

Outcomes were compared with those of face-to-face consultations with the patients.

The study validated giving consultant pulmonologists written information alone: they were able to make a firm diagnosis in half of the uncertain cases. In the other half, the diagnosis of asthma or COPD was rejected.

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