Most COPD Patients Missing Out on Pulmonary Rehab Benefits

For patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), pulmonary rehabilitation can significantly improve well-being. But according to a recent study, few people with COPD get the benefits of multifaceted rehabilitation programs that combine exercise training, nutritional counseling, education, and support.

The research was published on November 12, 2018 in Annals of the American Thoracic Society It found that only 1.9 percent of patients hospitalized with COPD received pulmonary rehabilitation within six months of being discharged from hospital. The authors stress that these 6- to 12-week programs are more easily accessible now that Medicare offers coverage for these services.

Researchers examined the medical care records of 223,832 patients hospitalized with COPD in 2012. This number represents all COPD hospitalizations among recipients of conventional health care that year. Only 4,225 patients underwent pulmonary rehabilitation within six months of discharge from hospital. That number rose slightly to 6,111 (2.7 percent) when researchers screened patients 12 months after discharge.

“These are pathetically small numbers when we consider everyone who would benefit,” says the study’s lead researcher. Peter Lindenauer, MDa hospital physician at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Massachusetts, and director of the Institute for Health Care Delivery and Population Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester.

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