A study conducted at the Corpus Christi Medical Center (Corpus Christi, Texas) assessed the accuracy of diagnoses and utilization of spirometry in multiple primary care clinics.

Sixty-five patient records were reviewed and only 29% of the patients had spirometry testing or had results available. Surprisingly, 31.6% of the patients diagnosed with COPD were misclassified because the spirometric measurements did not confirm the disease.

According to the recommendations of the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, spirometry should be performed to establish the diagnosis of COPD in any patient who has a history of chronic cough, sputum production, difficulty breathing, or exposure to risk factors.

“There is a strong need for education and training on multiple levels related to the diagnosis of COPD, one of the most common conditions treated by primary care clinicians. GOLD guidelines provide clear standards on which patients to evaluate with spirometry and how to perform and interpret the tests. Applying the updated guidelines in primary care will greatly improve the rate and accuracy of diagnosis, the first step toward proper treatment.” said Dr Stephen Eikermann, lead researcher.