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3. MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has negatively affected the delivery of respiratory diagnostic services across the world due to the potential risk of disease transmission during lung function testing. Community prevalence, reoccurrence of COVID-19 surges and the emergence of different variants of SARS-CoV-2 have impeded attempts to restore services. Finding consensus on how to deliver safe lung function services for both patients attending and for staff performing the tests are of paramount importance. This international statement presents the consensus opinion of 23 experts in the field of lung function and respiratory physiology balanced with evidence from the reviewed literature. It describes a robust roadmap for restoration and continuity of lung function testing services during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Important strategies presented in this consensus statement relate to the patient journey when attending for lung function tests. We discuss appointment preparation, operational and environmental issues, testing room requirements including mitigation strategies for transmission risk, requirement for improved ventilation, maintaining physical distance and use of personal protection equipment. We also provide consensus opinion on precautions relating to specific tests, filters, management of special patient groups and alternative options to testing in hospitals. The pandemic has highlighted how vulnerable lung function services are and forces us to re-think how long-term mitigation strategies can protect our services during this and any possible future pandemic. This statement aspires to address the safety concerns that exist and provide strategies to make lung function tests and the testing environment safer when tests are required.
McGowan A, Laveneziana P, Bayat S, Beydon N, Boros PW, Burgos F, Fležar M, Franczuk M, Galarza MA, Kendrick AH, Lombardi E, Makonga-Braaksma J, McCormack MC, Plantier L, Stanojevic S, Steenbruggen I, Thompson B, Coates AL, Wanger J, Cockcroft DW, Culver B, Sylvester K, De Jongh F. International consensus on lung function testing during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. ERJ Open Res. 2022 Mar 7;8(1):00602-2021. doi: 10.1183/23120541.00602-2021. PMID: 35261912; PMCID: PMC8607240.