Program Aims to Keep Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Patients Out of Hospital
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a progressive lung disease that is associated most commonly with smoking and includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
It is a very high cause of hospital admissions, says Sagar Naik, pulmonologist with Lee Memorial Health System. COPD is a common, preventable and treatable disease. It is progressive, and is associated with chronic inflammation in the airways (bronchial tubes) and the lungs due to toxic gases most commonly cigarette smoke. Irritation and attacks of bronchitis contribute to morbidity and mortality in patients.
Patients with COPD typically are current or past cigarette smokers with shortness of breath during routine exertion, fatigue and chronic cough, often with recurrent attacks of bronchitis and pneumonia. COPD affects 5 percent of the U.S. population, and is the third leading cause of death in the United States.
Lee Memorial Health System has implemented a COPD management program that helps patients deal with their disease and gain access to tests, treatments, medications, rehabilitation and educational initiatives.
The pilot program is available at Lee Memorial Hospital, with plans of eventually involving all hospitals in the system, at local emergency departments, and through pulmonologists, as well as primary care physicians in the community.
The primary goal of the program is to focus on patients admitted to the hospital with COPD irritations, and provide them with a comprehensive system of follow-up once they are discharged, all in conjunction with the patient s primary care physician and pulmonologist, Dr. Naik says. Improving the quality of care provided to patients with COPD on an outpatient basis, and reducing the rate of readmissions for patients with COPD exacerbations, especially in the first 30 days after discharge, are two of the most important targets.
Patients receive care from a team including respiratory therapists, nursing coordinators and pharmacists. These health professionals help procure the often expensive medications for the patient, visit them at home, provide them education about how to use inhalers, help them navigate the process of getting pulmonary function testing done, educate them about their disease process and recognition of symptoms, and teach basic steps to facilitate timely management.
Patients feel reassured that a comprehensive multidisciplinary team has their back once they are discharged from the hospital, Dr. Naik says.
Living with COPD
Sagar K. Naik, M.D.
Lee Physician Group
5216 Clayton Court
Fort Myers, FL 33907