PURPOSE: Access to quality lung function tests is crucial to avoid underdiagnosis and to give adequate support to clinicians in the decision making process. The aim of study was to analyze the characteristics of lung function tests performed in all public hospitals in Catalonia.
METHODS: Survey sent in January 2009 to 65 public hospitals in Catalonia (7,3 M inhabitants). We asked about: the overall activity of the hospital, the total number of pulmonary function tests, the number of spirometry, the professionals who requested the tests, the quality control and the training of professionals involved in lung function. We have compared the results between the seven health regions, taking into account metropolitan areas (68% of population) and the impact of high-tech hospitals (all in the metropolitan area). We explored the difference throw a non parametric contrast test.
RESULTS: There is wide variation between health regions. The hospitals can perform: spriometries (88%), lung volumes and DLCO (41%), 6' walking test (58%) and paediatric studies (60%). In public hospitals in Catalonia are made an average of 1.37 spirometries/100 inhabitants per year (ranging from 1 to 1,6). In the metropolitan area the average is 1,45 spirometries/100 inhabitants per year and ranges from 0.46/100 inhab to 2.7/100 inhab (p<0.05). Only 21,5% of the professionals receive formal training before working on the lung function lab. In 30.8% of hospitals spirometry data are included in the database of the hospital. Wide variation in the systematic quality control of spirometry was detected.
CONCLUSION: There is great variability in the performance of spirometry. It's mandatory to promote formal training, a systematic quality control and the incorporation of results to the electronic medical records.
CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: The training of professionals and quality control are essential to reduce the underdiagnosis of respiratory diseases.
DISCLOSURE: Joan Escarrabill, No Financial Disclosure Information; No Product/Research Disclosure Information