Responsibilities of the Medical Director of Respiratory Care
The Medical Director is responsible for the delivery of Respiratory Care
Services and is accountable to the Medical Staff for the quality of patient
care delivered by the Respiratory Care Service personnel. The Medical
Director will provide 24-hour availability (including, where necessary,
an appropriately qualified designee(s) to share these responsibilities or
assume them in the Director’s absence).
The Medical Director interacts directly with the respiratory care
personnel and promotes bedside and laboratory problem-solving and guidance.
With qualified technical assistance, the Medical Director balances the
quality and cost-effectiveness of respiratory therapies and pulmonary
physiologic testing, including blood gas analysis.
The Medical Director monitors and prevents mis-utilization of
respiratory therapies and respiratory diagnostic services by appropriate audit
The Medical Director has expert knowledge and training in the use of
respiratory care equipment and oxygen utilization in the hospital, home and
extended care facilities, and advises the Medical Staff of indication for and
regulations regarding these services.
The Medical Director formulates policies governing diagnostic and
therapeutic procedures performed by Technical Staff, such as:
When under the Respiratory Care Service, sampling
arterial/venous/capillary blood for gas analysis, measuring ventilatory
parameters and inspired/expired gas concentrations, measuring ventilator
weaning and artificial airway parameters.
Protocols for endotracheal tube and tracheostomy tube management and
intubation, chest physiotherapy, ventilator management, aerosol and inhaled
The Medical Director participates in development, evaluation and
introduction of new respiratory services, equipment, protocols and procedures,
and also monitors current respiratory services for their continued medical
The Medical Director provides Continuing Education in the diagnosis and
treatment of lung diseases for Physicians, Respiratory Care Practitioners,
Pulmonary Technologists, Registered Nurses, Administrators, Physical
Therapists, Patients and the Community.
The Medical Director coordinates the respiratory services with
Administration, the Medical Staff, Nursing, Pharmacy, Emergency Department,
Critical Care Units, Post-Anesthesia Recovery Rooms, and other personnel who
might utilize such services.
The Medical Director reviews physician performance in prescribing
respiratory therapies, e.g., ensuring documentation of complete and
appropriate physician orders or practices, therapeutic objectives, duration of
therapy and response to therapies.
The Medical Director provides consultation to physicians with respect
to availability and appropriateness of requested respiratory care and
In the absence of a Medical Director of the Pulmonary Physiology
Laboratory, the Medical Director of Respiratory Care may provide medical
direction of the Pulmonary Physiologic Testing Laboratories, including blood
The Medical Director may coordinate special respiratory services for
other units, which may include Respiratory Intensive Care Units, Pulmonary
Rehabilitation Programs, Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Units, Smoking Cessation
Clinics, Transportation of the critically ill patients within the hospital and
between hospitals, Sleep Disorder Centers, and other programs which
appropriately require participation from the Respiratory Care Service.
The Medical Director shares responsibility with and provides medical
expertise to the Administrative/Technical Director of the Respiratory Care
Service in matters regarding: Equipment; Personnel; Supplies; Budget; Space;
Infection Control; policies and Procedures; Safety; Preventative Maintenance;
Medical Gas Systems; Record Keeping; Fiscal and Regulatory Agencies and
Disaster and Casualty Programs.
The Medical Director, as the agent of the Medical Staff, is
responsible for seeing that the Respiratory Care Service is in compliance with
Federal, State and JCAHO Regulations.
* Modified from an Official Position Statement of the California Thoracic
Society, with permission.
REVISED AND READOPTED MARCH, 1997
REVIEWED APRIL 2006