Clinical case study

COPD: navigating inhaled medicines management

There are more than a dozen different inhaled medicines for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and multiple devices. How can you help your patients get the best out of theirs?

  • Cost: free

Yvonne, COPD case study


This activity has been approved for 2 points (CPD Activity) under the RACGP CPD Program for the 2020–2022 triennium (activity: 192618)

This activity has been accredited for 1 hour under the educational activity category in the ACRRM PD Program for the 2020–2022 triennium (activity: 19464)



Yvonne is a 66-year-old retiree with moderate COPD, who has recently been discharged from hospital following her second exacerbation in a year. She presents to you with headache and palpitations.

How would you manage Yvonne’s symptoms? Can a stepwise approach assist? How can you encourage Yvonne to get the best out of her inhaled medicines? What other interventions could you recommend to support Yvonne?

Complete this online case study and receive instant feedback on your responses, compare your approach with your peers and read expert commentary provided by Professor of General Practice, and member of the COPD Guidelines Committee, Nick Zwar.


Learning objectives

By completing this case study you will be able to:

  • tailor a patient’s medicines to the level and progression of COPD symptoms, using stepwise management based on COPD-X guidelines
  • describe the place of inhaled corticosteroids in therapy and outline the risks associated with their use in COPD
  • review a patient’s medicines list when changing therapy, after an exacerbation or after transitions in care, to avoid harmful duplications
  • describe key considerations that may influence choice of inhaler
  • implement a practice-based approach to ensure patients receive training in inhaler technique and both technique and adherence are regularly monitored.