Respiratory therapists are a vital part of the allied health care team. Also referred to as respiratory care practitioners, they are involved in many different aspects of cardiopulmonary health.

A Respiratory Therapist's Patients and Tasks

A respiratory therapist can work in many different areas of the health care field. Their main focus is the treatment of patients with breathing disorders and cardiovascular problems. They also provide temporary relief to patients with chronic asthma or emphysema. RTs treat patients ranging from infants to the elderly, providing care by way of medical ventilators and or drugs.

Respiratory therapists are not just limited to critical care units in the hospital. Many work in nursing facilities, home health care, emergency transport centers, physician's offices and pulmonary function labs. Respiratory therapists are trained to perform diagnostic and therapeutic procedures for patients that have cardiopulmonary problems. For example, in a hospital, a respiratory therapist will perform ABG's (arterial blood gas), a test that is used to determine the pH of the blood, the fractional pressure of carbon dioxide and oxygen. This is a very common test. Cardiac outputs, venous blood gases and CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) trails are used to determine a patient's ability to maintain their cardiopulmonary function.

Respiratory Therapy Defined

By definition, respiratory therapy is the treatment or management of acute and chronic breathing disorders, as through the use of respirators or the administration. Respiratory therapy is very practical and can be useful in everyday life if there is ever an emergency.