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This project, to update the position papers on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) published by the American Thoracic Society (ATS) and the European Respiratory Society (ERS) in 1995 [1, 2], is sponsored by both societies, who have agreed to develop a document entitled "Standards for the diagnosis and treatment of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease". It was felt that the document needed updating due to the following.

  • The prevalence and overall importance of COPD as a health problem is increasing.
  • There have been enough advances in the field to require an update, especially in the area of therapeutics.
  • It allows for the creation of a "live" modular document based on the web and it should provide healthcare professionals and patients with a user friendly and reliable authoritative source of information.
  • The care of COPD should be comprehensive, is often multidisciplinary and rapidly changing.

This document aims to fulfill all these needs:

Both societies acknowledge the recent dissemination of the Global Initiative of Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) [3] as a major worldwide contribution to the battle against COPD. However, the specific requirements of the members of both societies require adaptation of the broad GOLD initiative. Those requirements include specific recommendations on oxygen therapy, pulmonary rehabilitation, non-invasive ventilation, surgery in and for COPD, sleep, air travel, and end-of-life. In addition, a special emphasis has been placed on issues related to the habit of smoking and its control.

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