The Home Sputum Collection Project

Posted on November 02, 2022   |   
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This article was reviewed by the Bronchiectasis and NTM Content Review and Evaluation Committee.

By Helen Ballard and John Torrence

Patients have reported that they often receive inconclusive or nonspecific results from NTM sputum tests, which can be incredibly frustrating.

Unfortunately, many laboratories do not possess the special testing equipment necessary to identify NTM subspecies. Far too often, we hear about patients’ “sputum chronicles”, where samples may be sent to various labs across the country, only for the patient to receive vague, sub-par test results in return. This inefficient process involving repeated, multi-laboratory sputum testing often creates diagnosis and treatment delays, generating unnecessary distress and frustration for patients and prescribers alike.

To combat these issues, the COPD Foundation has recently embarked on a pilot project with the goal of helping NTM patients receive more timely and accurate results on their sputum tests, free of cost!

With generous funding from Insmed, we partnered with NTMir and the full-service mycobacteriology lab at National Jewish Health to expand access to at-home sputum collection at no cost to the patient.

Through our website, physicians can sign up to participate and patients can access a variety of resources including FAQs, our Bronchiectasis and NTM info line, and a 3-D sputum collection instructional video.

Registration is simple!

  1. Let your doctor know you are interested in this program.
  2. The interested physician or prescriber completes a short online form located at
  3. The prescriber receives an email from containing a sputum kit order form.
  4. The prescriber completes the order form on behalf of their patient(s) and returns the completed form via email to National Jewish Health.
  5. The mycobacteriology lab at National Jewish Health sends a sputum collection kit directly to the patient.
  6. The patient follows the collection instructions and returns their specimen to the full-service mycobacteriology lab at National Jewish Health, where tests ordered by the prescriber are performed.
  7. Results are returned via email to the prescribing physician’s office.

After nearly a year in action, the pilot has been incredibly well-received. One of our biggest takeaways from both patient and physician feedback is that there is a clear and present need for this service.

With your interest and support, we hope that the Home Sputum Collection Project will expand access to efficient, high-quality, home-based sputum testing and help bridge the gap between NTM diagnosis and treatment.

There is still time to participate in this pilot! If you’re interested in cost-free, high-quality sputum testing, consider telling your prescribing physician about The pilot will conclude once we reach our funding limit, so please sign up before space runs out!

COPD Foundation

NTM Logo

National Jewish

Funding provided by Insmed Incorporated NP-US-02143