Despite being one of the most common forms of lung disease, COPD is often misdiagnosed, and in some cases it is not diagnosed at all. In the United States, it is estimated that 27 million people suffer from the condition, and it is the third-leading cause of disease-related death in the country. Globally, some 210 million people have COPD, and smoking is believed to be a common risk factor.
To diagnose COPD, there must be evidence of airflow limitation that is not fully reversible at a predetermined ratio. In 2001, the Global Initiative for Obstructive Lung Disease defined airway obstruction as any FEV1/FEC value of less than .07. That standard has long been used in the United States and the United Kingdom. However, experts argue that the standard does not take into account a person's age or sex.
Therefore, it could cause a higher rate of COPD diagnosis in older men while under-diagnosing women who may have the condition. A patient who does not have the condition could suffer severe consequences if given medication meant to combat its symptoms. Patients who have the condition but are not diagnosed soon enough could miss out on possible interventions to slow its progression.
Patients who were misdiagnosed as having COPD could face large medical bills and severe health complications. Therefore, it may be a good idea to talk to an attorney about possible legal action against a medical professional who made the wrong diagnosis. Patients may be entitled to receive compensation for medical bills, lost wages and other damages in a medical negligence lawsuit grounded on a misdiagnosis.