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Now go save a life – yours – Spirometry early detection testing

Spirometry is the easy, fast, inexpensive method to check for early detection COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) and enable the patient to STOP the developing COPD in its tracks. 

So, tell me – why don’t primary care doctors give the test when it could save lives from the third leading cause of death in the US?  In addition, stop the long, slow smother…

When will the Public Health get involved?

The doctors I asked were candid and claimed most patients will not change their environment even if their environment was the cause of the COPD to avoid the further continuation of the beginning of COPD.

Maybe the doctors I spoke to are right.  Maybe the patients have not seen what happens to the COPDers who go on to develop other medical conditions.

Perhaps some patients would not make the changes needed but others would if given the opportunity to decide.  However, without offering the test , the doctors chose for them.

I found the following straightforward Spirometry information when I was goggling for something else.


Spirometry is an affordable and reliable method for pulmonary function testing. This test carries no risk, requires only four minutes of patient time, on average, and is the only test available to the primary care physician for the early detection of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD including emphysema and chronic bronchitis), asthma, and other chronic lung diseases.

The National Asthma Education and Prevention Program (NAEPP) recommends spirometry as an essential component of asthma diagnosis and treatment in the primary care setting, yet fewer than 20% of primary care providers report routine use, a proportion that is even smaller among pediatricians than family physicians and internists.

    National guidelines for asthma and COPD recommend routine spirometry and research has shown that nearly one-third of pediatric patients are misclassified in terms of asthma severity without the objective measurements of spirometry. Learn more here (KING 5 NEWS Seattle).

The COPD Foundation call spirometry the gold standard for initial pulmonary function testing allowing detection of the disease at an early stage, when it is most amenable to treatment and perhaps reversal. Nonetheless, about 40% of primary care doctors do not have a spirometer in their practice and of those that do, one-third do not use them routinely.

    Starting in 2009, the Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS) requires spirometry testing in the assessment and diagnosis of COPD. These HEDIS measures are required as part of the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) Accreditation Process for Commercial Health Plans.

The truth about spirometry

Myth: Spirometry has dubious value.

Reality: The National Lung Health Education Program (NLHEP) states that spirometry is one of the best clinical tests available for detection of lung disease and is better than blood pressure as a predictor of heart disease.

Myth: The test takes too long.

Reality: Spirometry can be completed in the primary care office in four minutes, on average.

Myth: The equipment is bulky and expensive.

Reality: While previously true, machines today are smaller for portability and available for under $2000. Hand-held office spirometers are developed with user-friendliness in mind, making them acceptable for use in a variety of primary care settings.

© 2009 University of Washington

interactive Medical Training Resources

University of Washington

Box 354920

Seattle, WA 98195-4920

T: 206-685-9699

F: 206-616-4623

Thanks for reading…Now go ask your doctor about a Spirometry test.

Sharon O’Hara

2 thoughts on “Now go save a life – yours – Spirometry early detection testing

  1. Thank you for posting this! You gave publicity to something very necessary but seldom mentioned.

    I looked through the whole website, however I was a little disappointed that there was very little on the interpretation of the curves, and none at all on COPD curves. Their real emphasis seems to be on asthma! I am also sorry to see that they are still showing smoking as a reason to do spirometry when about 10% of people with COPD have never smoked – these people need to be tested as there may be other approaches for treating those with Alpha 1-antitrypsin deficiency who often develop COPD without smoking.

  2. I was just as happy with the asthma comments because asthma is popular and acceptable to doctors and medical people – far more than COPD.

    If primary care docs give spirometry in their offices to test for asthma – they will surely add COPD to the mix – it all shows up – AND THAT is what we want – early detection for COPDers.and docs can’t do it if they don’t have Spirometry and oximeter in their office.

    An oximeter should be standard part of EVERY doctor visit, just as taking blood pressure is vital.

    We were tested at the last Better Breathers at Harrison
    Silverdale for Alpha 1-antitrypsin deficiency. Isn’t Alpha1 less than 1% of COPDers and their treatment is totally different – they get a treatment and wonderful ongoing research for the terrible genetic disease.

    It is vitally important that we get the major differences of COPD out in the open and get proper treatment for each.
    Thanks for writing!

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