Background: The American Thoracic Society committee on Proficiency Standards for Pulmonary Function Laboratories has recognized the need for a standardized reporting format for pulmonary function tests. Although prior documents have offered guidance on the reporting of test data, there is considerable variability in how these results are presented to end users, leading to potential confusion and miscommunication.
Methods: A project task force, consisting of the committee as a whole, was approved to develop a new Technical Standard on reporting pulmonary function test results. Three working groups addressed the presentation format, the reference data supporting interpretation of results, and a system for grading quality of test efforts. Each group reviewed relevant literature and wrote drafts that were merged into the final document.
Results: This document presents a reporting format in test-specific units for spirometry, lung volumes, and diffusing capacity that can be assembled into a report appropriate for a laboratory's practice. Recommended reference sources are updated with data for spirometry and diffusing capacity published since prior documents. A grading system is presented to encourage uniformity in the important function of test quality assessment.
Conclusions: The committee believes that wide adoption of these formats and their underlying principles by equipment manufacturers and pulmonary function laboratories can improve the interpretation, communication, and understanding of test results.
Keywords: pulmonary function quality grading; pulmonary function testing; reference equations; reporting spirometry.