Main Article Content
Low adherence with prescribed treatments is very common in chronic diseases and represents a significant barrier to optimal management, with both clinical and economic consequences. In chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), poor adherence, also in terms of premature discontinuation of therapy or improper use of inhaler devices, leads to increased risk of clinical deterioration. By contrast, adherence to appropriate long-term maintenance therapy is associated with improved quality of life and significantly lower risks of hospitalization and re-hospitalization, resulting in important health benefits for the individual patient and a reduction in costs for the national health services. In considering strategies to improve adherence, three main aspects should be addressed: i) patient education; ii) pharmacological alternatives and correct use of inhalers; and iii) adherence to COPD guidelines for appropriate therapy. In this field, healthcare providers play a critical role in helping patients understand the nature of their disease and its management, explaining the potential benefits and adverse effects of treatment, and teaching or checking the correct inhalation technique. These are important issues for patient management, particularly in the immediate aftermath of hospital discharge, because the high risk of re-admission is mainly due to inadequate treatment. Thus, discharge procedure should be considered a key element in the healthcare continuum from the hospital to primary care. This implies an integrated model of care delivery by all relevant health providers. In this context, we developed a structured COPD discharge form that we hope will improve the management of COPD patients, particularly in the aftermath of hospital discharge.
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