Kansas City Missouri Workers Comp: Chronic Pulmonary Disease

COPD can develop from exposure to harmful substances at the workplace, resulting in long-term disability.

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Chronic pulmonary disease (COPD) is also known as chronic obstructive airway disease. It is not a disease in itself, but a group of diseases that are caused by the limitation of airflow in the airways. COPD is a collective term used for a variety of lung diseases that include chronic bronchitis and emphysema. The disease is marked by lung damage when the airways carrying air in and out of the lungs become blocked, making it difficult for the patient to breathe.

COPD can develop from exposure to harmful substances at the workplace, resulting in long-term disability.
COPD is a major health problem affecting over 12 million people in the United States, and an equal number of patients are believed to be suffering from this condition and not know it. COPD is the third-leading cause of death and each year, 120,000 people die from this illness. COPD does not develop instantly; rather, it can take years before the patient starts experiencing any signs or symptoms.

Common Symptoms of COPD

Common symptoms of COPD that an affected worker may experience include:

  • wheezing
  • persistent cough with sputum or blood
  • blue or purple discoloration of the skin around lips or nails
  • a decrease in the ability to exercise
  • shortness of breath

Diagnosis of Chronic Pulmonary Disease

Unfortunately, there is no single test that can help a doctor make a definitive diagnosis of COPD. A doctor will perform a physical test and ask about the work history of the patient. Although the number one cause of COPD is cigarette smoking, work-related exposure is also a leading cause. People who are exposed to occupational pollutants such as silica, asbestos, or cadmium are at a high risk of developing COPD. Workers who are exposed to fumes or dust at the workplace are also prone to COPD.

Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Chronic Pulmonary Disease

Many workers think that they can receive workers’ compensation benefits only if they get injured at the workplace and that occupational illnesses may not be covered. However, workers who develop COPD or any other occupational illness as a result of their working conditions may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.

If you have developed COPD due to exposure to harmful chemicals at the workplace, you can claim benefits under the workers’ compensation system. However, you may have to prove that your condition is the result of occupational exposure and not the result of cigarette smoking or anything else. If you are having difficulty proving your illness is work-related, seek legal help from an experienced Kansas City workers’ compensation attorney. Call The Law Office of James M. Hoffmann at (816) 399-3706.

Updated: June 14, 2019

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