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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 and what we expect to see on our inspections.

Spirometry is recommended as the objective test to identify abnormalities in lung volumes and airflow. It is performed in general practice to diagnose and monitor chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other respiratory conditions.

Spirometry is used to make judgements about diagnosis and treatment, so must be performed to recognised standards by competent professionals. The test results can be interpreted by nurses or GPs who have undergone the appropriate training. Some practices liaise with the local respiratory specialist team to assess results.

It is best practice for those performing or interpreting diagnostic spirometry in general practice to be on the National Register. This demonstrates they have achieved the standard of practice set out by the Association for Respiratory Technology and Physiology (ARTP).

Quality assured diagnostic spirometry

NHS England has endorsed these documents which focus on improving quality and promoting best practice. The first covers performance and equipment standards; the second competency assessment.

1. Guide to performing quality assured diagnostic spirometry (2013)

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.

2. Improving the quality of diagnostic spirometry in adults: the National Register of certified professionals and operators (2016)

ARTP has set standards for the performance and interpretation of spirometry measurements. This document sets out:

  • a competency assessment framework
  • how healthcare professionals and operators can meet these standards and achieve certification
  • how to join The National Register.

When we inspect

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). They can demonstrate this if the staff are on the National Register.
Last updated:
10 August 2017


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