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Topics in Practice Management |

Spirometry: Don't Blow It!

Nancy E. Lange, MD, MPH; Mary Mulholland, BSN, RN, CPC; Mary Elizabeth Kreider, MD, MS, FCCP
Author and Funding Information

From the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care Medicine (Drs. Lange and Kreider) and Office of Regulatory Affairs and Clinical Documentation (Ms. Mulholland), Department of Medicine, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.

Mary Elizabeth Kreider, MD, MS, FCCP, Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care Medicine, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, 828 Gates Building, 3400 Spruce St, Philadelphia, PA 19104; e-mail: maryl.kreider@uphs.upenn.edu


Reproduction of this article is prohibited without written permission from the American College of Chest Physicians (www.chestjournal.org/site/misc/reprints.xhtml).


© 2009 American College of Chest Physicians


Chest. 2009;136(2):608-614. doi:10.1378/chest.08-2315
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Spirometry is a useful test of pulmonary function and can be safely performed in a variety of clinical situations. Although the technique for performing the maneuver is straightforward, there are many sources of variability in results. Specific criteria must be met in order for the test to be considered valid. For the best results, proper instruction and coaching is essential, and patient understanding and effort must be maximized. Appropriate interpretation of spirometry requires several steps, including recognition and reporting of technically sound maneuvers, comparison to an appropriate reference population, and finally application of a well-developed interpretation scheme utilized in the context of patient symptoms and findings. Failure at any point along this path from performance to interpretation can yield misleading results that may ultimately poorly impact patient care. A clear understanding by the provider of proper coding and billing for spirometry is necessary to receive appropriate reimbursement from payers.

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