Aims: To examine the characteristics of patients admitted to Auckland Hospital with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and to assess their management prior to hospitalisation.
Methods: Prospective survey of 99 patients admitted with COPD over an 8 week period. Of these, 80 patients were interviewed about their social circumstances, physical functioning, smoking habits and medical treatment. They also had their inhaler technique checked and FEV1 measured.
Results: Subjects had a mean age of 70.6 years with a mean FEV1 of 29% of predicted. 45% lived alone and a third still smoked. The mean value for their usual physical functioning was 15.4 (possible 10-30) on the SF-36 health status questionnaire. 84% of all subjects used a beta-agonist, 50% an anticholinergic bronchodilator, 69% inhaled steroids, 18% oral steroids, and 19% theophylline. 40% used nebulised medication and only 6% had domiciliary oxygen. 40% reported having an influenza vaccination in the preceding year and 27% had participated in some form of pulmonary rehabilitation. The mean length of stay was 7.5 days.
Conclusions: Patients hospitalized for COPD report marked impairment in physical functioning, despite which many live alone. They frequently use inhaled and oral steroids, and nebulised medication, but only a minority had received an influenza vaccination or attended pulmonary rehabilitation.