Respiratory therapy is a therapeutic treatment for respiratory diseases and conditions. A respiratory therapist (RT) is a health care professional who usually provides these treatments and evaluates the patient's response to the treatments.
The purpose of respiratory therapy is to maintain an open airway for trauma, intensive care, and surgical patients; assist in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and support; provide life support for patients who cannot breathe on their own; provide assistance to the anesthesiologist in the operating room; provide inhaled drugs and medical gases, provide results from the testing of measuring lung function; and assist with patient education.
Respiratory therapy is performed in hospitals, in neonatal, emergency, intensive care, surgical and cardiac units, and various other health care facilities. Respiratory therapy treats many kinds of patients, and provides temporary relief to patients suffering from respiratory ailments. The therapies most commonly administered are oxygen and aerosol medications, and ventilator support after intubation. RTs are assigned to patients during their shift and continuously monitor those patients and respiratory equipment.
It is essential to assess a patient's respiratory function if he/she has a known or suspected pulmonary condition. Therapists perform procedures that are both diagnostic and therapeutic.
Diagnostic therapy includes:
Treatment therapy includes:
The following are the most commonly performed procedures in respiratory therapy:
In order for respiratory therapy to be effective, RTs have to evaluate, document, and report all of the above procedures so that appropriate action can be taken by other members of the health care team.