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Acute Exacerbation of COPD: Nursing Application of Evidence-based Guidelines

Gronkiewicz, Cynthia MS, RN, APRN; Borkgren-Okonek, Marilyn MS, RN, APRN


Nurses in acute care settings play a vital role in caring for individuals during an acute exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. In addressing this health concern, the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease Report summarized the goals for COPD management and recommended treatment supported by current data and research. It is imperative that our clinical nursing practice is based upon research-supported interventions: use of appropriate medications, monitoring acid-base status, administering controlled oxygen therapy, assessing the need for mechanical ventilation, and close monitoring of comorbid illnesses. Health promotion includes patient and family education on early recognition of symptoms, smoking cessation strategies, and participation in pulmonary rehabilitation that can reduce long-term morbidity from this chronic disease.

Suburban Lung Associates, Elk Grove Village, Ill (Ms Borkgren-Okonek); and the College of Nursing, University of Illinois at Chicago (Ms Borkgren-Okonek).

Corresponding author: Cynthia Gronkiewicz, MS, RN, APRN, 847 Ashland Ave, River Forest, IL 60305. (e-mail:

© 2004 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.