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Nigel's surgery 83: Spirometry in general practice

  • Organisations we regulate

Here we share information about quality standards and best practice in spirometry when normal practice resumes. We also explain what we would expect to see on an inspection.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidance states that spirometry is recommended as the objective test to identify abnormalities in lung volumes and airflow. It is performed in general practice to aid diagnosis. It is a way of monitoring chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other respiratory conditions.

Spirometry is used to support diagnosis and treatment. It must be performed to recognised standards by competent professionals. Test results can be interpreted by nurses or GPs who have had appropriate training and can show competency. Some practices liaise with the local respiratory specialist team to assess results.

Those performing or interpreting diagnostic spirometry in general practice must be able demonstrate their competency. Being on the Association of Respiratory Technology & Physiology (ARTP) national register is one way to evidence quality and consistency

Quality assured diagnostic spirometry

The guide to performing quality assured diagnostic spirometry from the ARTP shows how high quality diagnostic spirometry can be delivered in primary care and elsewhere.

This step-by-step guide shows:

  • how to perform diagnostic spirometry
  • how to interpret and report results
  • calibration, cleaning and operation of the equipment
  • methods for quality assurance.
  • operator competency
  • preparation of the patient.

CQC expects practices to be able to demonstrate:

  • how they ensure spirometry equipment is cleaned and maintained according to the manufacturer’s guidance (KLOE S3 – reliable systems, processes and practices).
  • that all staff who perform spirometry tests or interpret results are competent (KLOE E3 - staff skills, knowledge and experience).
Last updated:
23 June 2020