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Patients can breathe easier thanks to new clinical research and expertise

Patients can breathe easier thanks to new clinical research and expertise

Dr. Ian Stiell’s research has resulted in a new diagnostic tool that any emergency department can use to determine when it’s safe to send a patient with COPD home and when that person should be admitted to hospital.

Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) often visit their local emergency department with breathing difficulties.

Now, researchers at The Ottawa Hospital have provided a new way for physicians to assess whether those patients should be admitted to hospital or safely sent home. The Ottawa COPD Risk Scale, based on research by Dr. Ian Stiell, one of the hospital’s emergency physicians, is being applied as soon as a patient with a respiratory problem enters the emergency department.

Dr. Stiell’s risk scale improves admission practices for the hospital and limits unsafe discharges. The scale uses simple diagnostic procedures to figure out whether the patient is likely to come back to the emergency department within 30 days with worsening symptoms. The scale also makes the symptoms of COPD patients much easier to interpret and treat appropriately.

November is COPD Awareness Month. Stop for a moment to realize that each day we take about 20,000 breaths. For some people living with poor lung health, each breath can be a struggle. About 850,000 Ontarians suffer from COPD and that number is on the rise. COPD sufferers account for about one in four hospitalizations and emergency visits and one in five ambulatory care visits.

That’s why an improved tool for treating COPD patients is so important.

“When physicians can identify the high-risk characteristics of COPD patients, we have the potential to significantly improve patient safety by helping to ensure that patients most at risk for poor outcomes be admitted to hospital,” said Dr. Stiell, who is also a senior scientist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute.

With evidence-based guidance, patients will receive improved quality of care. Not only does the Ottawa COPD Risk Scale ensure patients at the greatest risk are admitted, but also that these at-risk patients are guaranteed early follow-up.

Ultimately, COPD patients will face fewer ED return visits and avoidable distress — thanks to research put into action from the moment a patient first steps into the hospital’s care.


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  • Anonymous says:

    Is it possible to see a link to the research and the tool?

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