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Validity and interpretation of spirometric recordings to diagnose COPD in UK primary care

Authors Rothnie KJ, Chandan JS, Goss HG, Müllerová H, Quint JK

Received 4 February 2017

Accepted for publication 27 March 2017

Published 7 June 2017 Volume 2017:12 Pages 1663—1668


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Russell

Kieran J Rothnie,1,2 Joht S Chandan,3,4 Harry G Goss,4,5 Hana Müllerová,6 Jennifer K Quint1,2

1Respiratory Epidemiology, Occupational Medicine and Public Health, National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London, 2Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, 3Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, University Hospitals Birmingham, Birmingham, 4Medical School, Faculty of Medical Sciences, University College London, 5Jersey General Hospital, St Helier, Jersey, 6Respiratory Epidemiology, GlaxoSmithKline R&D, Uxbridge, UK

Background: The diagnosis of COPD is dependent upon clinical judgment and confirmation of the presence of airflow obstruction using spirometry. Spirometry is now routinely available; however, spirometry incorrectly performed or interpreted can lead to misdiagnosis. We aimed to determine whether spirometry undertaken in primary care for patients suspected to have COPD was of sufficient quality and whether their spirometry was correctly interpreted.
Methods: Two chest physicians re-read all spirometric readings for both quality of the procedure and interpretation, received as a part of COPD validation studies using data from the Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD). We then used logistic regression to investigate predictors of correct interpretation.
Results: Spirometry traces were obtained for 306 patients, of which 221 (72.2%) were conducted in primary care. Of those conducted in primary care, 98.6% (n=218) of spirometry traces were of adequate quality. Of those traces that were of adequate quality and conducted in primary care, and in whom a general practitioner (GP) diagnosis of COPD had been made, 72.5% (n=218) were consistent with obstruction. Historical records for asthma diagnosis significantly decreased odds of correct interpretation.
Conclusion: The quality of the spirometry procedure undertaken in primary care is high. However, this was not reflected in the quality of interpretation, suggesting an unmet training in primary care. The quality of the spirometry procedure as demonstrated by spirometric tracings provides a re-assurance for the use of spirometric values available in the electronic health care record databases for research purposes.

Keywords: pulmonary disease, chronic obstructive, general practice, respiratory function tests, data accuracy, electronic health records

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