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Thursday, October 20, 2011

The future roles of the respiratory therapist

As I wrote in this post, there will come a time -- probably soon -- where hospital administrators, insurance companies, and government agents will insist upon the initiation of RT Driven protocols that will get rid of unnecessary breathing treatments.

Likewise, even if treatments are indicated beta adrenergic medicine is no longer high risk in most cases, and the need for a baby sitter during the therapy is no longer indicated.  So why should the hospital, the insurance company, or the government waste valuable resources paying for RTs to do these procedures.

When this happens, there will be many scared respiratory therapists.  They will wonder:  Will we be out of a job?  Such a worry will not be new, as in the past RTs feared many times the profession would be eliminated. Examples include in the 1950s when the need for tank jockeys was no longer needed, or in the 1970s and 1980s when DRGs were created and RT services became a loss for the hospital.

Yet the profession lived on.  And despite foreseeable changes in our profession, the profession will continue.  Yet we will have to prove our worth.  We are definitely needed to manage machines, yet we will have to create other tasks.

Sam P. Giordano, "Respiratory Drug Delivery: What if?" RT Times, August, 2011, explains that the following may become the task of the RTs, or should become the responsibilities of respiratory therapists in order to improve patient outcomes:

  1. Educate patients about their diseases to make sure they truly understand
  2. Improve patient adherence to medication regimes
  3. Educate patients and families to recognize and employ healthier behaviors, especially with quitting smoking and avoiding second hand smoke
  4. Educate family caregivers who provide support for our patients in the home to help comply with physician's orders
  5. Teach both patients and family members to recognize exacerbations sooner and avoid that emergency department visit or avoidable readmission to hospital
The goal here, Giordano, is to assure a role for RTs even if we don't administer any medication in the future.  


Anonymous said...

You have become very wise in your cave. You are so correct. HR941 failed, but will live on and change until it passes! But, I beg to point out, it is the apathy in our own field that is killing us.

Sue said...

this is not working for anonymous