slideshow widget

Friday, May 11, 2012

What do RTs really do?

The American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC) lists the following tasks that respiratory therapists do:.
  • Diagnosing lung and breathing disorders and recommending treatment methods.
  • Interviewing patients and doing chest physical exams to determine what kind of therapy is best for their condition. 
  • Consulting with physicians to recommend a change in therapy, based on your evaluation of the patient.   
  • Analyzing breath, tissue, and blood specimens to determine levels of oxygen and other gases.
  • Managing ventilators and artificial airway devices for patients who can’t breathe normally on their own.
  • Responding to Code Blue or other urgent calls for care.
This list is an ideal list of the tasks RTs do.  For all you RTs out there in the real world, how accurate do you think this list is?  Does this paint an accurate picture to prospective RT students? 

Based on your responses I will update this list so that it is accurate if necessary.  So what do you think?



Robert Beaty, RRT AE-C said...

I would say the majority of my work is responding to RN's who don't know what is wrong with their patient.... However I would like to see management of non-invasive therapy (NIPPV). Am I missing it here?

Anonymous said...

I'm a student with experience mostly only in one, medium sized hospital... graduating this summer. I've been told we do not diagnose. Even hinting at helping the doctor in a diagnosis (for example, saying "I think it's pneumonia" or "I think it might be a pulmonary embolism") can get you into trouble.

We collect lab specimens (mostly ABGs) but do not interpret them. For example, when calling doctors with ABG results we do not give the interpretation, just the numbers. Telling a doctor what an xray shows can irritate a doctor because it's his job to interpret the xray.

I've been told we technically don't even assess patients. So in other words, at least in this hospital the doctors have broad authority and you need to be careful not to cross into their territory.

So what it boils down to is being a technician. The nurses care for the patients and we run the respiratory equipment: ventilators, oxygen, nebs, suctioning, CPT, flutter, EZPAP, IS, capnography. We sometimes do EKGs (no interpretation) and help with inserting central lines. We do ABGs. If we think any of these therapies, or a modification in these therapies, will help than we recommend it.

Once you start talking about rehab and the pulmonary function lab then you can add things to that list (metabolic tests, exercise tests, bronchoscopy assist, bronchoprovocation tests, lung volume and diffision tests, etc.)

Anonymous said...