Law Office of Robert A. Miller
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Studies show that COPD and asthma are often misdiagnosed

Oregon residents may be shocked to learn that between a third and a half of those diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or asthma may not actually be suffering from these debilitating conditions. Experts say that this common form of misdiagnosis could be reduced if physicians ordered spirometry testing when COPD or asthma are suspected. During a spirometry test, patients take deep breaths and then exhale as powerfully as they can into a machine that measures how well their lungs are functioning.

Misdiagnosed patients face a number of dangers. In addition to taking unnecessary medications that may expose them to unwelcome and unhealthy side effects, the true causes of their suffering can remain undetected. Spirometry tests are recommended by medical experts in the United States and around the world, but studies show that many patients with breathing issues never take them. The problem is especially pronounced among minority groups who are particularly prone to this kind of misdiagnosis because of the risk factors they face.

When patients in a federally funded health care facility took these tests, 65 percent of those diagnosed with COPD were found to not have the condition. The long-term effectiveness of the tests will be evaluated in a new study that focuses on 400 individuals who have been diagnosed with asthma or COPD. Half of the group will undergo a spirometry test at the beginning of the study, and the remaining half will be tested before researchers reach their conclusions.

A failure to diagnose can cause unneeded suffering and great emotional stress for those with an unknown medical condition. Such victims may pursue civil remedies. Since doctors are sometimes reluctant to call attention to mistakes made by their peers, personal injury attorneys may cite research published in leading scientific and medical journals to establish negligence.

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