So it appears that the Michigan Office of Regulatory Reinvention (ORR) has "recommended the deregulation of 18 occupations -- among them respiratory care. It also recommends eliminating the Michigan Board of Respiratory Care. The ORR claims to have carefully considered the public health and safety benefits' of these occupations and determined that they do not require regulation." That's according to the editorial, "Save the RTs!" for the August issue of RT Magazine by Marian Benjamin.
She offered her debate why regulation in the profession of respiratory therapy is necessary, and how a deregulation of the profession in Michigan could result in a slippery slope that could effect the RT profession, the medical profession, and the overall quality of patient care. Her arguments are well founded, or so we here at the RT Cave think. She provides a link to this petition you can sign if you're concerned about how this might negatively effect the profession and patient care.
I guess I have a couple thoughts on this. For one thing, if the deregulation of the RT profession is so important, then why did Jennifer Granholm sign on to legislation to license Michigan RTs. Why is it necessary to force us to pay $175 a year for a license if what we do isn't necessary? So we're basically paying $175 a year so you can deregulate us? That's not money well invested. Now it looks more than ever like the legislation was passed simply to raise more money for the state.
I also believe that about 80 percent of what we do is a waste of time or delays time. I'm referring to breathing treatments for any of these reasons. It seems like Albuterol is among the most abused medicine in the hospital. I also don't think it requires a person getting paid $20 an hour with respiratory therapy training to babysit a patient during a breathing treatment either. However, this is the cost of doing business. Because while 80 percent are non indicated, that one time a respiratory therapist walks into a room, sees that something isn't right with the patient (something a high school educated on the job trainee wouldn't recognize), and starts a chain of events to fixing the patient, is worth that cost of doing business. Respiratory therapists have saved many lives this way, and in turn a lot of money.
There's also the other side of respiratory therapy, the side that involves doing CPR, intubating, managing airways, and managing ventilators. You can pull anyone off the streets to push ventilator buttons, but you can't pull just anyone off the street to perform the critical thinking skills necessary to speed a patients recovery.
Too often what we respiratory therapists do goes unnoticed. Most patients probably don't even know who we are nor what we do. Yet we are there behind the scenes, at the head of the bed, saving lives. So perhaps member of the ORR are among this bunch. To deregulate our profession would result in the opposite effect I think the ORR is yearning for. What do you think?