Context: Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) have a high symptom burden and reduced quality of life. There is an increasing attention on palliation for patients with COPD. Recognition of symptoms is a prerequisite for palliation. Objectives: We aim to investigate the extent to which symptoms in patients with COPD are recognized in the documentation of the health professionals, indicated in 'Doctors Symptom Recognition Rate' (DSR), 'Nurses Symptom Recognition Rate' (NSR) or 'Doctors and/or Nurses Symptom Recognition rates '(DNSR) as a team, respectively. Methods: Patients with COPD (n = 40) admitted in two respiratory units, responded within 48 h on two symptom-screening-tools that access quality of life; COPD assessment test (CAT) used for the treatment of COPD and EORTC-QLQ-C15-PAL used for palliation in patients with cancer. Patient-described symptomatology was compared to the symptoms as recognized in the documentation of doctors and/or nurses. Results: There was a significant discrepancy between the symptomatology indicated by patients with COPD on CAT and EORTC-QLQ-C15-PAL, and the degree by which it was recognized in the medical records indicated in DSR or NSR. In 30 out of 44 items DSR or NSR were < 70%. There was a significant difference between DNSR versus DSR or NSR, respectively, in 19 out of 22 items.Conclusion: A team-based symptom recognition DNSR is superior when compared to DSR or NSR. Team-based systematic screening is suggested as a pathway to increase symptom recognition in patients with COPD. Increased rates of symptom recognition may improve symptom alleviation and thus palliation.