Scope of Practice

Department served:  All patients in the Vanderbilt Clinics and Vanderbilt Hospital.

Scope and Complexity:  The Respiratory Care Department cares for all patient age groups in all stages of diseases.  The department assists patients with many different types of breathing disorders and problems.

Level of services provided: 

The Respiratory Care Department provides:

Diagnostic services - obtaining sputum specimens, blood for arterial blood gases and electrolytes, assist with bronchoscopy procedures, bedside pulmonary function testing, oximetry, capnography and metabolic cart measurements.

Treatment - the department initiates and maintains all patients supported with mechanical ventilation, oxygen therapy, other types of gas therapies, and administers aerosol drugs.  The department assists all Lifeflight patients from the Helipad to the emergency department when they have an artificial airway in place.  Routinely transport all mechanically ventilated patients in the hospital when they have to leave there intenstive care unit, or when these patients are transferred to a local hospital.

Education - the department provides vital information to patients in helping them manage their disease/illness and wellness promotion.

Support Services:

The main chemistry lab backs up our point of care testing labs when we have instrumentation prblems.  All arterial blood gas samples drawn in areas outside of the SICU, Trauma Unit and the BICU are sent to the main chemistry lab for analysis.  The Central Processing Department assists Respiratory Care with sterilization of bronchoscopy forceps and biopsy needles.  Respiratory care equipment that requires cleaning and processing is done in the respiratory care department.


Hours of operation - 24 hours, 7 days per week.

Standards and Guidelines for Service:

All clinical staff are credentialed by the National Board for Respiratory Care.

Assessment and Planning:

The Respiratory Care Department utilizes a detailed procedure manual for procedures performed, that has been approved by the medical directors of the respiratory care department.

MediServe information system - daily staff productivity reports are reviewed for the distribution of work assignments,  These reports are also used to monitor our busiest areas for adequate staffing needs.

We obtain feedback from the various units we provide service to by sending a staff member to the individual Unit Boards as requested.

Our medical directors help provide us with feedback from the medical staff.

The department has monthly meetings for all supervisors and staff to communicate any changes, assess ongoing activities, and plan for the future.