Pulmonary Fibrosis: Lung disease kills 6,000 people a year and many GPs are unaware of it
Clare has a lung disease that kills 6,000 people a year. Many more are at risk, yet many GPs are barely aware of it
GPs misdiagnose 35 per cent of patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) – a terminal condition which causes irreversible scarring of the lungs.
When Clare Beckett was finally given the diagnosis of her terminal lung disease it came almost as a relief. Of course, it was a devastating blow but, unlike most patients, she had known what to expect. “A part of me wasn’t very surprised. In some ways it was a relief to actually have it pinned down,” she says. Clare, 40, suffers from pulmonary fibrosis, a lethal condition known as the “hidden killer” as so little research is devoted to treating it and diagnosis can be painfully slow because few doctors are aware of it.
A survey by the charity Action for Pulmonary Fibrosis found that a third of respondents (35 per cent) had been misdiagnosed, most commonly by GPs. One fifth took more than two years to be diagnosed correctly which, the charity says, “is a tragedy given that life expectancy is only three to four years”.
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