Quality assured diagnostic spirometry

25 April 2013

Spirometry is one of the main investigations used for diagnosing respiratory diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma.

Although it may appear to be a fairly simple test to perform, the ability to produce an accurate picture of volume versus time under forceful effort is dependent on many factors, both technical and patient-related. The interpretation of the results relies not only on the test performance and outcome but must be considered in the context of other clinical information. Given the intricacy of these factors, evidence suggests that there is significant misdiagnosis of respiratory disease and less than optimum or appropriate treatment for patients.

As a diagnostic test that may influence the eventual diagnosis and treatment that a patient receives, spirometry needs to be performed to recognised standards by competent professionals. 

Guide to Performing Quality Assured Diagnostic Spirometry

This step-by-step guide shows clinicians how to ensure that diagnostic spirometry performed in primary care and other settings is quality assured and provides valid results for patients. It details how spirometry should be performed, the interpretation and reporting of results and methods for quality assurance. The guide also illustrates common technical errors and offers top tips for reporting spirometry results.

Improving the quality of diagnostic spirometry in adults:  the National Register of certified professionals and operators

This document builds on The Guide to Performing Quality Assured Diagnostic Spirometry and sets out a competency assessment framework.  It describes the process by which healthcare professionals and operators can become certified and join The National Register, thus demonstrating that they have achieved the standards established by the association for Respiratory Technology & Physiology (ARTP) for the performance and interpretation of spirometry measurements.

Frequently asked questions are also available.

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