What does a Respiratory Therapist do?

Assess, treat, and care for patients with breathing disorders. Assume primary responsibility for all respiratory care modalities, including the supervision of respiratory therapy technicians. Initiate and conduct therapeutic procedures; maintain patient records; and select, assemble, check, and operate equipment.

Jobs Roles

  • Set up and operate devices such as mechanical ventilators, therapeutic gas administration apparatus, environmental control systems, or aerosol generators, following specified parameters of treatment.
  • Provide emergency care, such as artificial respiration, external cardiac massage, or assistance with cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
  • Determine requirements for treatment, such as type, method and duration of therapy, precautions to be taken, or medication and dosages, compatible with physicians' orders.
  • Monitor patient's physiological responses to therapy, such as vital signs, arterial blood gases, or blood chemistry changes, and consult with physician if adverse reactions occur.
  • Read prescription, measure arterial blood gases, and review patient information to assess patient condition.
  • Enforce safety rules and ensure careful adherence to physicians' orders.
  • Maintain charts that contain patients' pertinent identification and therapy information.
  • Inspect, clean, test, and maintain respiratory therapy equipment to ensure equipment is functioning safely and efficiently, ordering repairs when necessary.
  • Educate patients and their families about their conditions and teach appropriate disease management techniques, such as breathing exercises or the use of medications or respiratory equipment.
  • Explain treatment procedures to patients to gain cooperation and allay fears.
  • Relay blood analysis results to a physician.
  • Perform pulmonary function and adjust equipment to obtain optimum results in therapy.
  • Perform bronchopulmonary drainage and assist or instruct patients in performance of breathing exercises.
  • Demonstrate respiratory care procedures to trainees or other healthcare personnel.
  • Teach, train, supervise, or use the assistance of students, respiratory therapy technicians, or assistants.
  • Use a variety of testing techniques to assist doctors in cardiac or pulmonary research or to diagnose disorders.
  • Make emergency visits to resolve equipment problems.
  • Conduct tests, such as electrocardiograms (EKGs), stress testing, or lung capacity tests, to evaluate patients' cardiopulmonary functions.
  • Work as part of a team of physicians, nurses, or other healthcare professionals to manage patient care by assisting with medical procedures or related duties.
  • Transport patients to the hospital or within the hospital.
  • Perform endotracheal intubation to maintain open airways for patients who are unable to breathe on their own.
  • Monitor cardiac patients, using electrocardiography devices, such as a holter monitor.
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