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Prim Care Respir J. 2008 Mar;17(1):46-50. doi: 10.3132/pcrj.2008.00007.

End-of-life care for COPD patients.

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Palliative Care Department, Western Memorial Regional Hospital, Western Health Authority, Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada.


Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) receive poor end-of-life (EoL) care, in part because their disease course is not predictable. If the family physician would not be surprised at the patient's death within a year, then EoL issues should be raised for discussion. Embarking on such a discussion has the potential to enhance the patient's quality of life and EoL care, thereby avoiding unnecessary treatments or interventions. An Advance Health Care Directive can be useful. Appropriately-used systemic (not nebulised) opioids are safe and effective for managing dyspnoea. The family physician is in an excellent position to provide comprehensive EoL care for COPD patients.

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