Restarting spirometry testing: considering and minimising the risks posed by COVID-19
Intended for healthcare professionals
Evidence and practice    

Restarting spirometry testing: considering and minimising the risks posed by COVID-19

Debbie Duncan Lecturer in education (nursing), Medical Biology Centre, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast, Northern Ireland

Why you should read this article:
  • To understand the risks of transmission of the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) during spirometry

  • To be aware of the challenges faced by GP surgeries in providing spirometry testing in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic

  • To read about the recommendations for minimising the risks of infection when restarting spirometry testing

Spirometry is a pulmonary function test normally performed in primary and secondary care as part of the diagnosis and assessment of patients with respiratory conditions, notably chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Spirometry involves three main risks of transmitting the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19): aerosols, droplets and direct contact with contaminated surfaces. The COVID-19 pandemic therefore negatively affected spirometry testing, which had to be drastically reduced or interrupted. Services are being gradually restarted but concerns and challenges remain. This article describes the challenges posed by COVID-19 to spirometry testing and outlines the recommendations of professional organisations, including the Association for Respiratory Technology and Physiology and the Primary Care Respiratory Society, for restarting spirometry testing while ensuring patient and staff safety. The article also discusses innovative devices and new models of service delivery that could assist in ensuring that spirometry testing can be performed more safely.

Primary Health Care. 32, 3, 20-25. doi: 10.7748/phc.2022.e1760

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and has been checked for plagiarism using automated software

Correspondence  debbieduncan@dduncan42

Conflict of interest

The author is a member of the Association of Respiratory Nurse Specialists

Duncan D (2022) Restarting spirometry testing: considering and minimising the risks posed by COVID-19. Primary Health Care. doi: 10.7748/phc.2022.e1760

Published online: 09 March 2022

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