Patients, health care professionals, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies are coming together today to take action against one of the world’s most prevalent respiratory diseases.  The illness, COPD, is a non-communicable lung disease that progressively robs sufferers of breath.


Providers must often take the lead in recognizing and helping patients overcome some common communications barriers.  This helps achieve provider-patient dialogue in the exam room that facilitates early diagnosis, treatment and improved quality of life.

ONE IN THREE AMERICANS REMAIN UNAWARE OF COPD.  Despite recent gains in awareness and the fact that COPD is now the third leading cause of death in the United Stated, millions still have not heard of COPD or its symptoms.

Barrier Breakers:  Incorporate educational materials such as posters, brochures or videos in the exam and waiting rooms.  Refer patients to our Pulmonary Rehab Program or out-pt COPD education class by calling 478-464-1653 or 478-751-0449  

PATIENTS HESITATE TO TELL YOU THEIR SYMPTOMS.  Nearly half of all primary care physicians say the biggest barrier of COPD diagnosis is that patients do not fully report their symptoms.  One quarter of patients who say they have experienced common COPD symptoms say they haven’t mentioned these symptoms to their provider.

Barrier Breakers:  Ask questions and give examples that get your patients talking.  Have them visit with your nurse or physician’s assistant first.  Patients may be more likely to share information or concerns they are unsure of with these individuals first.

WHY AREN’T PATIENTS TALKING?  There are many reasons Americans don’t talk to their providers about symptoms.  For many, they just don’t want to hear another quit smoking message.  For others it’s financial—they are afraid they will need tests and treatment they cannot afford.   For some, the symptoms are not something they think of, they may have had symptoms for a long time and grown used to them—or they may believe these issues will go away on their own in time.  Still others keep quiet to avoid hearing they may have a serious health problem.

Barrier Breakers:  If you know or suspect your patient is a smoker, let them know that you empathize with how hard it is to quit and refer them to a support group.  Let them know that there are ways to manage the symptoms to improve quality of life—but you must know about the symptoms in order to treat them.  Refer low-income or uninsured patients to free or low-cost testing.

It’s a well-known fact.  Good communication between providers and patients is especially important for managing a chronic disease, such as COPD.  Studies show that patients who feel they are informed and part of the decision making process are more likely to adhere to a treatment regimen and actively manage their disease.

Information from National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website.

Coliseum Pulmonary Center hosted a COPD info booth in the cafeteria at CMC today to honor World COPD Day!

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