COVID-19 Updates: We are keeping our staff, clients and their family members safe and healthy. Our law firm is 100% operational, available in-person and 24/7 assistance by email and phone. Read More
Posted on June 25th, 2020
COPD is one of the most prevalent chronic diseases associated with lifelong economic burden without a cure. A key step in increasing awareness of the burden of COPD is obtaining comprehensive and reliable information regarding the overall financial costs imposed by the disease.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD is an umbrella term used to describe progressive lung diseases including emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and other lung conditions that block the airflow, stiffen lungs, and make breathing difficult.
Cigarette smoke is the leading cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, but research suggests occupational exposures are likely to play a role. Workplace exposure to airborne toxicants such as asbestos, may lead to acute and chronic pulmonary inflammation.
There are several reports, utilizing various national surveys that have estimated the medical costs of COPD. Costs increase with increasing severity of the disease, and hospital stays account for the majority of these costs.
In the United States, more than 16.4 million people have been diagnosed with COPD, but millions more may have the disease without even knowing it.
According to the studies available on the economic cost of COPD, data indicate that:
COPD is a severely disabling and irreversible condition with lasting impact on the quality of life and working ability of an individual. However, treatment can help slow the progression of the condition and control the symptoms. Researchers examined records to explore the incidence of emergency department visits and subsequent hospital admissions related to COPD and found that the costs are significant and increasing. The high hospital costs are driven by two distinct groups:
A cost-of-illness study estimated the total annual payment for COPD in the United States to be $6.6 billion of which:
Other annual costs are:
Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease may experience an acute worsening of respiratory symptoms that result in additional therapy. This event is called COPD exacerbation or flare-up. Commonly reported symptoms of an oncoming exacerbation are:
Frequent exacerbations, mainly in patients with severe COPD, determine significantly higher resource use and treatment cost. The costs of exacerbations that require hospitalization increase dramatically compared with those that can be treated in an ambulatory setting. Near the end of life, COPD patients can receive hospice or palliative care - which is comfort care for people with a life expectancy of six months or less.
Inhaled asbestos fibers deposit on lung surfaces, but because the fibers are insoluble, they do not dissolve into lung fluids, nor can they be destroyed by the body's defense system.
Thus, asbestos fibers accumulate in human tissue through repeat exposure, causing inflammation and DNA damage.
COPD is a progressive and ultimately fatal deterioration of lung function. When it is triggered by past occupational exposure to asbestos, the condition entails greater health risks, such as:
If the sufferer had repeated exposure to asbestos fibers in the workplace, there is a considerable risk of COPD later developing into a form of lung cancer.