End-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a progressive illness without a cure. Because of its unpredictable trajectory, prognosis is difficult as, even in end-stage disease, patients may experience exacerbations and stabilization. There are many symptoms to manage until ultimately, respiratory function is severely compromised.
Home care nurses provide much of the care at home and can make a difference in promoting advanced care planning and optimal comfort. This article reviews COPD, the management of subsequent symptoms, and the role of the home care nurse.