BACKGROUND: Targeted spirometry screening for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) has been studied in primary care and community settings. Limitations regarding availability and quality of testing remain. A targeted spirometry screening program was implemented within a presurgical screening (PSS) clinic to detect undiagnosed airways disease and identify patients with COPD/asthma in need of treatment optimization.OBJECTIVE: The present quality assurance study evaluated airflow obstruction detection rates and examined characteristics of patients identified through the targeted screening program.METHODS: The targeted spirometry screening program was implemented within the PSS clinic of a tertiary care university hospital. Current or ex-smokers with respiratory symptoms and patients with a history of COPD or asthma underwent prebronchodilator spirometry. History of airways disease and smoking status were obtained during the PSS assessment and confirmed through chart reviews.RESULTS: After exclusions, the study sample included 449 current or ex-smokers. Abnormal spirometry results were found in 184 (41%) patients: 73 (16%) had mild, 93 (21%) had moderate and 18 (4%) had severe or very severe airflow obstruction. One hundred eighteen (26%) new cases of airflow obstruction suggestive of COPD were detected. One-half of these new cases had moderate or severe airflow obstruction. Only 34% of patients with abnormal spirometry results had reported a previous diagnosis of COPD. More than one-half of patients with abnormal spirometry results were current smokers.CONCLUSIONS: Undiagnosed airflow obstruction was detected in a significant number of smokers and ex-smokers through a targeted screening program within a PSS clinic. These patients can be referred for early intervention and secondary preventive strategies.