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Furnace House Surgery Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. Protocol Date: 13 th April 2005 Review Date: April 2006 Acknowledgement: Sarah Hicks. Aims and objectives of this protocol . to improve COPD care in this Practice to reduce emergency admissions to hospital due to COPD

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furnace house surgery chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Furnace House SurgeryChronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease


Date: 13th April 2005

Review Date: April 2006

Acknowledgement: Sarah Hicks

aims and objectives of this protocol
Aims and objectives of this protocol.
  • to improve COPD care in this Practice
  • to reduce emergency admissions to hospital due to COPD
  • to improve quality of life in COPD patients
  • to improve patient education
  • to encourage patients to take responsibility for their own COPD management
definition of copd
Definition of COPD
  • A collection of conditions that share the features of chronic obstruction of expiratory flow, e.g. chronic bronchitis, emphysema, chronic obstructive airways disease, chronic airflow obstruction and some cases of chronic asthma which have resulted in irreversible lung destruction.
  • slow progressive condition characterised by marked airways obstruction that does not changemarkedly over time.
each patient will have varying proportions of
Each patient will have varying proportions of:
  • Chronic bronchitis with increased and airway wall inflammation;
  • small or peripheral airways disease ­ increased mucus, airway wall thickening, scarring and narrowing
  • emphysema ­ permanent destruction of the alveoli, airspaces distal to the terminal bronchiole. On lung expansion, elastic recoil is reduced and pressure to drive expiration is lost. There is also a drop in intraluminal pressure needed to maintain airway patency during forced exhalation (demonstrated by lip pursing).
  • smoked for at least 20 pack years
  • Usually present in the fifth decade with a productive cough or an acute respiratory complaint.
  • By the sixth or seventh decade, exertional dyspnoea is usually a featureandintervals between acute exacerbations become shorter
  • earlier stages, slow, laboured expiration, plus wheezing on forced expiration may be apparent
  • Can result in hyperventilation and a gradual increase in the anteroposterior diameter of the chest.

The underlying causes of COPD yet to be fully elucidated but include:

  • cigarette smoking, with other types of tobacco smoking also being strong risk factors
  • heavy exposure to occupational dusts and chemicals (vapours, irritants and fumes)
  • indoor and outdoor air pollution.
  • Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency (very small minority)
disease classification
Disease classification

severity of disease rather than presumed underlying causes. The objective measure used for this and monitoring progression of the disease is Forced Expiratory Volume in one second (FEV 1).

Severity of Airflow ObstructionFEV1% predicted

  • Mild 50 – 80
  • Moderate 30 – 49
  • Severe <30
making a diagnosis
Making a Diagnosis

Think of a diagnosis of COPDfor patients who are:

  • Over 35 years
  • Smokers or ex-smokers
  • No relevant pathology on chest XRay
  • Have any of these symptoms
    • exertional breathlessness
    • chronic cough
    • regular sputum productions
    • frequent winter bronchitis
    • wheeze

Perform spirometry if COPD seems likely.

at the time of their initial diagnostic evaluation prior to spirometry all patients should have
At the time of their initial diagnosticevaluation, prior to spirometry, all patientsshould have:
  • a chest radiograph to exclude other pathologies
  • a full blood count to identify anaemia or polycythaemia
  • body mass index (BMI) calculated.
  • An Alpha-1 Antitrypsin test if there is early onset of symptoms, minimal smoking history or family history.
the copd clinic
The COPD Clinic
  • Attendance at this clinic is initially instigated via the doctor but follow-up appointments will be generated by either the clinic nurse or the administrating assistant at a period suitable to the patient needs.
  • The clinic will provide assessment of patient general health, in relation to their COPD, and spirometry testing for the purpose of an aid to either early diagnosis or management of the patients disease.
  • The patient should be given the ‘Lung Function Test’ Patient Information Leaflet (can be located in ‘Patient Information Leaflets’ in Global Server) at least 1 week prior to any spirometry tests
initial clinic appointment
Initial Clinic Appointment.

The following will take place at an initial clinic appointment:

  • Spirometry to confirm diagnosis
  • Assessment of smoking status and desire to quit

If applicable

  • Adequacy of symptom control:
    • Breathlessness
    • Exercise tolerance
    • Estimated exacerbation frequency
  • Inhaler technique
  • Body Mass Index
  • Pulse oximetry (SaO2)
  • Flu / Pneumonia immunisation status cont.
Depression Assessment
  • Dyspnoea Score
  • COPD Information Leaflet
  • Referral back to GP for regular 6 monthly follow-up if spirometry confirms COPD diagnosis
annual clinic review
Annual Clinic Review

The following will take place at a each follow-up clinic appointment:

  • Patient education about COPD, effects of smoking and the disease progression
  • Smoking status, encouragement to stop and their desire to quit (Referral to Smoking Cessation Service if patient agreeable)
  • Adequacy of symptom control
  • Presence of complications
  • Effects of drug treatment
  • Inhaler technique
  • FEV1 and FVC
  • Pulse oximetry (SaO2)
  • BMI and nutritional state
  • Dyspnoea Score
  • Need for social services or occupational therapy input
  • Need for referral to specialist and therapy services
  • Need for long-term oxygen therapy
  • Flu / Pneumonia immunisation status
If applicable
  • Bronchodilator reversibility test
  • Steroid reversibility test
  • Depression Assessment
reversibility tests differentiation of copd from asthma
Reversibility tests: differentiation of COPD from asthma

Reversibility tests involve measuring spirometry before and after treatment and can help distinguish between COPD and asthma. Tests may include reversibility to bronchodilators (beta2 agonists or anticholinergics) or inhaled / oral steroids.

Significant reversibility is defined as a rise in FEV1 that is both greater than 200ml and 15% of the pre-test value.

Substantial reversibility (>400ml) indicates asthma.


Mucolytic drug therapy should be considered in patients

  • with a chronic cough productive of sputum.
  • Mucolytic therapy should be continued if there is symptomatic improvement (for example, reduction in frequency of cough and sputum production).
exacerbation in primary care
Exacerbation in Primary Care


  • sending sputum samples for culture is not recommended in routine practice
  • pulse oximetry is of value if there are clinical features of a severe exacerbation.
  • usually managed by taking increased doses of shortacting bronchodilatorsand these drugs may be given using different delivery systems.

NB. Only if a patient is hypercapnic or acidotic should the nebuliser be

driven by compressed air, not oxygen (to avoid worsening

hypercapnia). The driving gas for nebulised therapy should

always be specified in the prescription.

cont exacerbations systemic corticosteroids
cont. Exacerbations:Systemic Corticosteroids
  • oral corticosteroids should be considered in patients managed in the community who have an exacerbation with a significant increase in breathlessness which interferes with daily activities.
  • Prednisolone 30 mg orally should be prescribed for 7 to 14 days. It is recommended that a course of corticosteroid treatment should not be longer than 14 days as there is no advantage in prolonged therapy.
  • Osteoporosis prophylaxis should be considered in patients requiring frequent courses of oral corticosteroids.
  • Patients should be made aware of the optimum duration of treatment and the adverse effects of prolonged therapy.
cont exacerbations antibiotics
Cont. Exacerbations:Antibiotics
  • Antibiotics should be used to treat exacerbations of COPD associated with a history of more purulent sputum.
  • Patients with exacerbations without more purulent sputum do not need antibiotic therapy unless there is consolidation on a chest radiograph or clinical signs of pneumonia.
  • Initial empirical treatment should be an aminopenicillin, a macrolide, or a tetracycline. When initiating empirical antibiotic treatment, prescribers should always take account of any guidance issued by their local microbiologists.
cont exacerbations oxygen therapy during exacerbations of copd
Cont. Exacerbations:Oxygen therapy during exacerbations of COPD
  • The oxygen saturation should be measured in patients with an exacerbation of COPD
  • If necessary, oxygen should be given to keep the SaO2 greater than 90% but not above 93%.
mrc dyspnoea score
MRC Dyspnoea Score

MRC Dyspnoea Score

Grade Degree of breathlessness related to Activities

  • Not troubled by breathlessness except on strenuous exercise
  • Short of breath when hurrying on the level or walking up a slight hill
  • Walks slower than contemporaries on the level because of breathlessness, or has to stop for breath when walking at own pace
  • Stops for breath after walking about 100m or after a fw minutes on the level
  • Too breathless to leave the house, or breathless when dressing or undressing


Adapted from Fletcher CM, Elmes PC, Fairbairn MB et al. (1959) The significance of

respiratory symptoms and the diagnosis of chronic bronchitis in a working

population. British Medical Journal 2:257–66.


Healthcare professionals should be alert to the presence of depression in patients with moderate to severe COPD. The presence of anxiety and depression should be considered in patients:

  • who are hypoxic (SaO2 less than 92%)
  • who have severe dyspnoea
  • who have been seen at or admitted to a hospital with an

exacerbation of COPD.

The presence of anxiety and depression in patients with COPD can be identified using validated assessment tools.

Patients found to be depressed or anxious should be treated with conventional pharmacotherapy.

For antidepressant treatment to be successful, it needs to be supplemented by spending time with the patient explaining why depression needs to be treated alongside the physical disorder.

See depression score

Ref. Birchell et al (1989) The Depression Scoring Instrument (DSI): J Affect Disorder 16 269-281

  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: National clinical guideline for management of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease in adults in primary and secondary care. Thorax 2004; 59 (Suppl 1): 1-232
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. A Boyter et al. Pharmaceutical Journal (vol 261) 5.9.98 
  • First UK Guidelines for Management of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. Pharmaceutical Journal (Vol 259) 13.12.97 
  • NICE Guidelines (2004). Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: Management of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in adults in primary and secondary care. Clinical Guideline 12. National Collaborating Centre for Chronic Conditions. London. http://www.nice.org.uk/pdf/CG012_niceguidelines.pdf
  • Ref: British Thoracic Society. Guidelines for the Management of COPD. Thorax 1997;52 Suppl 5:51-28
  • The Management of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. MeReC 9(10) November 1998.