The Practical Role of the Respiratory Therapist in the Standard Apnea Test Procedure for Declaration of Death via Neurologic Criteria in Adults




TriStar Centennial Medical Center

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respiratory therapy, respiratory therapists, intensive care, apnea test, ApT


Investigative Techniques | Neurology | Respiratory Therapy


Introduction: Respiratory therapists (RTs) in the intensive care unit can at times find themselves involved in and assisting during the performance of the apnea test (ApT). The ApT is a clinically complex procedure and is the last part of the clinical declaration of death by neurologic criteria (DNC) protocol and requires close collaboration between the physicians and the RTs. As such, the ApT should be performed with the upmost attention to detail.
Context and Aims: The RTs need to be versed on the intricacies of the ApT. Except in very large medical centers, the ApT is not a procedure performed with high enough frequency as to maintain high level of proficiency. For a successful ApT, structured knowledge and preparation is paramount. This publication attempts to fill that gap, for adult hospitalized patients not on ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation). To generate this report, we make use of the published guidelines, and our personal experience on performing ApTs in large medical centers.
Conclusion: We provide a structure by means of a checklist, from the RTs’ perspective, to guide and help them lead on the efficient performance of the ApT.

Publisher or Conference

Multidisciplinary Respiratory Medicine