Respiratory Therapy

At the direction of a licensed physician, a respiratory therapist evaluates and treats cardiopulmonary (lungs and heart) health. This includes teaching patients and their families about treatment and maintenance of pulmonary health problems, including the use of respiratory therapy equipment and medications.

Respiratory therapy technicians perform these services under the supervision of a licensed respiratory therapist or a licensed physician.

To determine the state of your cardiopulmonary health, respiratory therapists and technicians may run tests to identify such things as arterial blood gases, lung volume, and pulmonary infection, among others.

In treating cardiopulmonary conditions, respiratory therapists and technicians may:

  • set up and monitor therapeutic gases (e.g., oxygen) and environmental control systems;
  • initiate and support a breathing apparatus (mechanical ventilator);
  • insert and maintain an artificial airway;
  • administer medications needed for respiratory care; and
  • provide cardiopulmonary rehabilitation.

Respiratory therapists and technicians also help patients and their families by providing consumer education, including....

  • the proper use of equipment designed to aid respiration or administer needed gases or medication;
  • adaptive techniques or strengthening exercises; and
  • procedures used to clear the respiratory system.

Read more about this profession.

Last Updated: July 10, 2009