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A tool for managing COPD

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Judith Smith, BSc (Hons), RGN.

Respiratory Nurse Consultant, East Lincolnshire PCT; National Respiratory Training Centre Trainer, and Visiting Lecturer, Practitioner and Examiner, South Bank University, London


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) kills 30,000 people every year and is the only major cause of death currently increasing in the UK.People with COPD attend frequently in primary care, with consultation rates for the condition being four times more common than those for angina (British Thoracic Society, 1997). The impact in secondary care is equally staggering, with nearly one in eight of all medical admissions being attributed to COPD.The long-awaited COPD guidelines written on behalf of the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) by the National Collaborating Centre for Chronic Conditions and endorsed by the British Thoracic Society have emphasised a need for accurate diagnosis, rational proactive therapy and reduction of disease progression (National Collaborating Centre for Chronic Conditions , 2004).Recognition of the impact of COPD on health-care resources in both primary and secondary care has motivated the Department of Health to include this disease within the clinical body of the Quality and Outcomes Framework of the new GMS contract. However, despite these measures, COPD remains a neglected disease.The management of people with COPD is often reactive, focusing on the management of acute exacerbations. This may be owing to a lack of awareness that the condition can be treated, compounded by difficulties with diagnosis and management.The prevention of COPD exacerbations should be a key aim of treatment. Preventing them and/or managing them at home would be beneficial to patients, and cost-effective.If the profile of this condition is to be raised, nurses need to be enabled to feel confident about managing these patients. Training programmes and educational resources/tools are one means of achieving this.A COPD tool produced by GlaxoSmithKline provides a simple, easy-to-read, pocket-size guide for primary care nurses, regardless of their knowledge and expertise. The layout is easy to manage, and the user-friendly design allows quick referencing of bulleted information. There is a prompting guide for primary care nurses, which allows them to identify areas for further training or development.- The tool is available, free, from GlaxoSmithKline, Stockley Park West, Uxbridge, Middlesex UB11 1BT.

British Thoracic Society. (1997)BTS guidelines for the management of chronic obstructive airways disease. Thorax 52: (Suppl 5), S1-28.National Collaborating Centre for Chronic Conditions. (2004)Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: Management of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in adults in primary and secondary care. National Institute for Clinical Excellence Clinical Guideline 12. Available at:
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