Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD (includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis) is the fasted growing cause of death. COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in Canada and will soon be third. COPD kills more Canadian women than breast cancer. COPD is the leading cause of hospitalization of seniors. Even though there are 64,000 Saskatchewan people living with COPD, awareness is low. Many COPD patients do not have access to diagnostic tools and management programs that are the recognized clinical standard of care. A lung attack (which is a flare-up of COPD) is as deadly as a heart attack.
Lung Association Actions
The Lung Association provides patient and family support through programs, many on-line resources and COPD information sessions via the provincial Telehealth network. Lung Association health care professionals, who are Certified Respiratory Educators, provide expert consultations to COPD patients and their family members.
The Lung Association worked with the Health Quality Council of Saskatchewan on its collaborative on COPD to improve the quality of care for COPD patients. This included teaching family physicians and office staff to conduct and interpret spirometry. Spirometry is a breathing test which is used to diagnose COPD and to assess its severity, but less than half of COPD patients in Saskatchewan have had this test.
The Lung Association worked with the Saskatoon Health Region to develop and implement COPD rehab programs and continues to deliver education sessions and provide resources. These programs are being expanded to other health regions in the province. A COPD Toolkit was developed by the Lung Association to facilitate the establishment and enhancement of COPD rehab programs.
The Lung Association is contracted by the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health to provide training and services for its home oxygen program to improve the management of COPD. The Lung Association has trained and certified over 600 home oxygen testers in all health regions of the province and provides an overnight home oxygen testing service. This is especially important for those regions of the province that do not have local capacity for these tests.
The Lung Association provides a COPD Professorship of $50,000 per year to the University of Saskatchewan. Over $570,000 has been contributed since 2001. This professorship permitted Saskatchewan to retain one of the world’s top COPD experts.
The Lung Association has completed a project to assess the benefits of having a Certified Respiratory Educator providing consultations and conducting spirometry in family physician offices. The results of the analysis of the project will be used to promote the availability of this service in all areas of the province.
The Lung Association through its medical section, the Canadian Thoracic Society, produces the Canadian clinical guidelines for the diagnosis and management of COPD.