Respiratory Care

The Respiratory Care Service is a 24-hr day, 7day week service provided of 25-30 Respiratory Care Practitioners licensed by the state of Georgia, who are all either Certified (CRTT) or Registered (RRT) in the field of Respiratory Care. The staff provides In-patient and outpatient diagnostic studies for patients experiencing breathing difficulties and provide extensive in-patient therapy for its hospitalized patients. For more detailed information on procedures provided by this service, see below:

Diagnostic Studies

  • Pulmonary Function Studies
    • Spirometry - This is a simple, 15 minute procedure which "measures" how much air you can exhale and how fast. The results are compared to someone else your same age to see if your lungs appear normal.
    • Spirometry After Bronchodilator Therapy - If spirometry is abnormal, the patient receives a breathing medicine(bronchodilator) and the test is repeated to denote whether the med would be helpful as therapy.
    • Diffusion Testing - This 15 minute test involves inhaling a special gas mixture for 10 seconds, and helps to determine the well oxygen flows thru the lung wall.
    • Functional Residual Volumes - This 15 minute test involves breathing a special gas mixture for about 10 minutes. The results measure the amount of air left in the lungs after one exhales completely.
  • Non-Invasive Ventilation Studies
    • Pulse Oximetry - This is a 2 minute non-invasive study which measures the "saturation" of oxygen in the blood stream. For most patients, this should "normally" be in the 95-100% range.
    • End-Tidal CO2 Monitoring - This is another non-invasive test which measures the amount of CO2 that a person is exhaling when arterial blood cannot be acquired or a continuous monitor is needed. The "normal" value should be between 30 and 40 torr.
  • Arterial Blood Gases (ABG)
    • pCO2 - This is a measurement of the amount of CO2 in the arterial blood. It helps the physician determine whether the patient is "ventilating" adequately and should normally be between 35-45 mmHG.
    • pO2 - This is a measurement of the amount of O2 in the arterial blood. It helps the physician determine whether the patient is "oxygenating" adequately and should normally be between 80-100 mmHg.

Respiratory Therapy

  • Bronchodilator
    • Aerosol Therapy - This is a common therapy for patients with asthma and COPD. Respiratory therapists visit patients on a regular (e.g. Q4) basis and deliver medicines to the lungs via "aerosolization" from a special hand-held nebulizer.
    • Metered-dose Inhaler Therapy - For patients who can take their lung medicines by a metered dose inhaled (MDI), therapists deliver and instruct patients in the correct technique needed to administered the lung medicines in this simple manner.
  • Hyperinflation therapy
    • Incentive Spirometry - Many patients who have post-operative "splinting" from pain do not breathe deep enough and are prime candidates to complicate with pneumonia or atelectasis (lung collapse). Incentive spirometry is a simple "lung exerciser", where the patient inhales as deeply as possible and a caregiver (Respiratory Therapist or Nurse) monitors and cheerleads deep inhalations.
  • Bronchial Hygiene Therapy
    • Chest Physiotherapy - This is a form of therapy where a trained Respiratory Therapist positions patients and helps "vibrate" their chest with either a special machine or their hands to help "loosen" pulmonary secretions that they cannot cough up on their own.
    • PEP Therapy - This is a new form of exhalation therapy, where a patient breaths out thru a device which applies back-pressure on the lungs to help open them up more and/or stimulate a therapeutic cough.
  • Medical Gas Therapy
    • Oxygen Therapy - Respiratory therapists and Nursing provide supplemental oxygen to patients who are experiencing shortness of breath due to low oxygen levels in the bloodstream. This oxygen level is increased and decreased as needed to keep the correct amount of oxygen in the bloodstream.
    • Heliox Therapy - This special gas mixture (helium and oxygen) is used occasionally on patients who are experiencing severe bronchoconstriction (e.g. "Tight") and normal bronchodilator therapy has not helped. This gas can be administered thru a simple "cannula" or "mask" or "nebulizer".
  • Mechanical Ventilation
    • Volume Ventilation - A volume ventilator is a very sophisticated and expensive piece of life support that is instituted and monitored by highly-skilled Respiratory Therapists. These RCPs constantly monitor ventilators in the Intensive Care Units and help to "wean" them off patients as soon as patients are strong enough to breathe on their own.
    • Non-Invasive Positive Pressure Ventilation - This is a newer form of breathing support that allows a patient to receive help breathing without having to be placed on the more involved "volume ventilator". The patient can receive support by wearing a special mask and even eat & talk with this form of therapy.


  • Peakflow Instruction - RCPs frequently teach patients in the proper use of a portable "peakflow" monitor to measure changes in a patient's airway flows. Many asthmatics use this device to monitor their asthma and know when to take their bronchodilators or seek advanced medical intervention.
Other websites to access for further information include:
American Association for Respiratory Care
American Lung Association National Heart
Heart, Lung and Blood Institute