Spirometry in Primary Care: An Analysis of Spirometry Test Quality in a Regional Primary Care Asthma Program
BACKGROUND: Primary care office spirometry can improve access to testing and concordance between clinical practice and asthma guidelines. Compliance with test quality standards is essential to implementation.OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the quality of spirometry performed onsite in a regional primary care asthma program (RAP) by health care professionals with limited training.METHODS: Asthma educators were trained to perform spirometry during two 2 h workshops and supervised during up to six patient encounters. Quality was analyzed using American Thoracic Society (ATS) 1994 and ATS/European Respiratory Society (ERS) 2003 (ATS/ERS) standards. These results were compared with two regional reference sites: a primary care group practice (Family Medical Centre [FMC], Windsor, Ontario) and a teaching hospital pulmonary function laboratory (London Health Sciences Centre [LHSC], London, Ontario).RESULTS: A total of 12,815 flow-volume loops (FVL) were evaluated: RAP – 1606 FVL in 472 patient sessions; reference sites – FMC 4013 FVL in 573 sessions; and LHSC – 7196 in 1151 sessions. RAP: There were three acceptable FVL in 392 of 472 (83%) sessions, two reproducible FVL according to ATS criteria in 428 of 469 (91%) sessions, and 395 of 469 (84%) according to ATS/ERS criteria. All quality criteria – minimum of three acceptable and two reproducible FVL according to ATS criteria in 361 of 472 (77%) sessions and according to ATS/ERS criteria in 337 of 472 (71%) sessions. RAP met ATS criteria more often than the FMC (388 of 573 [68%]); however, less often than LHSC (1050 of 1151 [91%]; P<0.001).CONCLUSIONS: Health care providers with limited training and experience operating within a simple quality program achieved ATS/ERS quality spirometry in the majority of sessions in a primary care setting. The quality performance approached pulmonary function laboratory standards.