Social welfare services for respiratory-disabled persons in Korea are offered based on the respiratory impairment grade, which is determined by 3 clinical parameters; dyspnea, forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1), and arterial oxygen tension. This grading system has several limitations in the objective assessment of respiratory impairment. We reviewed several guidelines for the evaluation of respiratory impairment and relevant articles. Then, we discussed a new grading system with respiratory physicians. Both researchers and respiratory physicians agreed that pulmonary function tests are essential in assessing the severity of respiratory impairment, forced vital capacity (FVC), FEV1 and single breath diffusing capacity (DLco) are the primarily recommended tests. In addition, we agreed that arterial blood gas analysis should be reserved for selected patients. In conclusion, we propose a new respiratory impairment grading system utilizing a combination FVC, FEV1 and DLco scores, with more social discussion included.
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