The Respiratory Care Service is a 24-hr day, 7 day week service provided by 25-30 Respiratory Care Practitioners licensed by the state of Georgia, who are all either Certified (CRT) or Registered (RRT) in the field of Respiratory Care. The Respiratory Therapy staff provides a variety of services for Inpatients as well as Diagnostic studies for Outpatients. 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 medication (bronchodilator) and the test is repeated to denote whether the medicine would be helpful as therapy.
    • Diffusion Testing - This 15 minute test involves inhaling a special gas mixture for 6 seconds, and helps to determine how well oxygen flows thru the lung wall.
    • Functional Residual Volumes - This 15 minute test involves breathing a special gas mixture for 6 seconds. 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.
  • 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 oxygen 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 administer the 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.
  • Mechanical Ventilation
    • Volume Ventilation - A volume ventilator is a piece of equipment required when a patient is unable breath on their own or in Respiratory failure. Patients are placed on a ventilator and monitored by skilled RT staff in the Intensive Care Units. When they are strong enough to breathe on their own, they are “weaned” from the ventilator.
    • Non-Invasive Positive Pressure Ventilation - Non-Invasive ventilation refers to administering ventilatory support without utilizing invasive procedures such as placing a tube in the trachea to provide life support. This type of support has markedly increased over the past two decades. A mask is the general choice of delivery and provides more flexibility for the patient.


  • Peakflow Instruction - Respiratory Care Practitioners 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.