Date posted: 11th October 2016

Spirometry is an important medical examination for patients with respiratory problems. However, at present, the test is thought to fail the essential quality standards. In our latest blog, CPIMS uncover the effects this may have on patients, as well as identifying the key elements of diagnostic spirometry.

What is diagnostic spirometry?

A diagnostic spirometry is the most common type of lung function test. As a diagnostic, it is used to determine, diagnose and assess the severity of a respiratory condition, such as asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). It is extremely important, as it is used to determine the treatment of an individual and influence the diagnosis. On the surface, the test seems relatively simple to carry out, however, it must be noted that the results may not be as accurate as they could be.

Diagnostic spirometry test

The spirometry test, requires patients to breathe into a spirometer machine. By breathing in fully, sealing lips around the mouthpiece and then breathing out, the spirometer can determine your lung capacity. For the most accurate results, patients should breath out as fast and as far as possible to ensure lungs are completely empty. On some occasions, patients may be asked to breath in and out as slowly as possible.

diagnostic spirometry

Diagnostic spirometry in primary care has been criticised for not meeting the correct essential quality standards. Commonly, patients who are suffering from respiratory problems aren’t being appropriately diagnosed and, in turn, aren’t receiving the correct treatment. On the other hand, patients who don’t meet the diagnostic criteria of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are being treated for the condition and are having to spend money on expensive and unnecessary treatment.

Not only is this wasteful, but the wrong diagnosis could be extremely harmful to patients. However, the problems with the spirometry test have been recognised and changes are being made in order to increase the quality of the examination.

Quality assured diagnostic spirometry

Due to the intricacy and complications that could occur with diagnostic spirometry, it is important that the test is carried out to a high standard, by a quality assured professional, against the recognised standards. By taking these steps, the test is more likely to be accurate and the right diagnosis will be given. In order to improve the standards of care, a new framework has been set out.

The new arrangements, thought to be introduced between 1 April 2017 – 31 March 2021 are going to be used alongside the Guide to Performing Quality Assured Diagnostic Spirometry, which was published in 2013. This guide describes how high quality spirometry could be delivered to the standards required and will help clinicians perform the diagnostic spirometry in primary care to meet the required standards.

The team at CPIMS are expert case managers and are committed to providing an innovative, reliable and professional service. If you require advice or information regarding our services, please call us on 0844 371 0616 or email

You can find more information regarding the new fundamentals for diagnostic spirometry.

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