Law Office of Robert A. Miller
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How a doctor diagnoses COPD

An Oregon doctor might use family history, symptoms and tests to diagnose patients for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Patients who have an ongoing cough should inform their doctors and should also mention any mucus as well as whether anyone in their family has COPD.

There are several tests that doctors can use to measure lung function. This means examining how much air a person is breathing and how quickly as well as whether the lungs are efficiently delivering oxygen. Spirometry is one of the most common tests for COPD. Patients take a deep breath and blow into a tube to measure both how quickly they exhale and how much they exhale. They might do it twice, once without medicine and once with medicine, and the doctor will compare the results. Even before a person has symptoms of COPD, spirometry may detect its presence. It might also instead detect a different condition such as heart failure or asthma.

Other tests a doctor might use include chest X-rays or a chest CT scan and an arterial blood gas test. The former two, like spirometry, may show COPD as well as other symptoms. The latter samples blood from an artery to assess the severity of COPD based on oxygen in the blood.

A doctor might fail to diagnose COPD due to failing to take a family history, insufficient testing or misinterpreting the results of a test. This might result in a patient's delayed treatment. Patients might even spend time and money getting treated for asthma, heart disease or another condition that they do not have. A patient in such a situation might want to discuss the possibility of a medical malpractice suit with an attorney. If it is found that the medical professional did not provide the requisite level of care, the patient might receive compensation for the losses that have been incurred.

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