In the ED, what monitoring is needed in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)?

Updated: Nov 13, 2020
  • Author: Paul Kleinschmidt, MD; Chief Editor: Barry E Brenner, MD, PhD, FACEP  more...
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Disposition from the ED depends on the clinical picture for each patient more than any single laboratory value or test. In general, the longer the exacerbation, the more airway edema and debris are present, making resolution in the ED increasingly more difficult. Patients who state that they "feel back to normal" and have no overt reason for admission can reasonably be discharged home with follow-up arrangements. The corollary to this is that patients who state they "do not feel comfortable," regardless of the numbers, are the best predictors of outcome and probably should be admitted. Data on risk factors for relapse and need for admission are limited at present.

For patients who are sent home, nearly all should receive a short steroid burst and an increase in the frequency of inhaler therapy. Close follow-up should be arranged with the patient's regular care provider. Other therapies should be considered on a case-by-case basis.

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