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COPD tool ‘improves GP diagnosis’

Using a short decision aid to help diagnose COPD in patients presenting with a persistent cough reduces the number of unnecessary patients sent for spirometry.

A Dutch study involved 65 GPs, who examined 357 patients complaining of a persistent cough for 14 days or longer and estimated the probability of COPD after taking a short history and physical examination.

When the diagnosis was checked, it was found that using the decision aid after the initial assessment had improved the GPs' risk classification, resulting in 35 fewer patients needing spirometry testing and eight fewer COPD cases being missed.

Professor Berna Broekhuizen, at the University Medical Centre Utrecht, Netherlands said: ‘These results suggest that implementation of diagnostic decision tools in the diagnostic pathway for COPD could enhance efficient use of spirometry.'

British J Gen Pract, October 2011