Patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Exacerbations: Recommendations for Diagnosis, Treatment and Care

To describe an evidence- and experience-based expert consensus on the most relevant issues of patients with COPD exacerbations.

The Delphi technique was used. Evidence was reviewed by a scientific committee and 60 experts. A questionnaire was prepared containing 3 sections: diagnosis of the exacerbator; treatment, and healthcare processes. The survey was answered in 2 rounds by 60 pneumologists on an online platform. Statements were scored on a Likert scale from 1 (total disagreement) to 9 (total agreement). Agreement and disagreement were defined as a score of 7-9 or 1-3, respectively, given by more than two thirds of the participants.

A total of 48 statements were included, one of which was added in the second round. Consensus was reached in 37 items (78.7%) after the first round (agreement), and in 43 (89.5%) after the second round (42 agreement, 1 disagreement). The statements with the highest proportion of experts agreeing were as follows: in exacerbators, chronic bronchial infection favors lung function decline (93.1%); long-acting bronchodilators should not be withdrawn (93.1%); treatment must be personalized if new exacerbations occur despite optimal bronchodilator treatment (96.6%); management must be coordinated between primary care and the respiratory medicine department (93.1%), and patients must be followed up in specific integrated multicomponent programs (94.8%).

The findings of this study could assist in the diagnosis and treatment of COPD exacerbators in our area.