Respiratory Therapists work to evaluate, treat, and care for patients with breathing disorders. Those people include patients with chronic lung problems, such as asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema, but they also include heart attack and accident victims; premature infants; and people with cystic fibrosis and lung cancer.
Respiratory therapists perform procedures that are both diagnostic and therapeutic. Some of these activities include:
- Obtaining and analyzing sputum samples
- Obtaining and analyzing Arterial Blood Gas samples (ABGs). An ABG measures the amount of oxygen, carbon dioxide, and other gasses in blood.
- Perform Pulmonary Function Tests (PFTs) to determine lung function / impairment.
- Study disorders of people with disruptive sleep patterns like Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
- Operating and maintaining various types of equipment to administer oxygen or to assist with breathing.
- Employing Mechanical Ventilation in treating patients who cannot breathe adequately on their own.
- Monitoring and managing therapy that will help a patient recover lung function.
- Administering medications in aerosol form to help alleviate breathing problems and to help prevent respiratory infections.
- Maintaining a patient's artificial airway, one that may be in place to help the patient who can't breathe through normal means.
Educating the patient about their disease process and treatments their physician has prescribed.