Timeline and History of Respiratory Therapy

Respiratory care is a relatively new discipline in the medical field, however, its practices date back throughout the history of civilization.

Respiratory Therapists treat patients with acute and chronic conditions of the heart and lungs. The job title hasn’t been around very long, however, the fundamental practices of respiratory care were used throughout the 20th century.

This study guide provides an overview of the history of respiratory care and has practice questions on this topic as well. So, if you’re ready, let’s get started.


Respiratory Care

Significant Historical Events in Respiratory Care

According to Egan’s Fundamentals of Respiratory Care, the following are major historical events that have occurred in the field of respiratory care in the 20th century:

  • 1909 – Oral intubation was introduced
  • 1913 – Laryngoscope was developed
  • 1918 – Oxygen mask was used
  • 1928 – Iron Lung was developed
  • 1947 – Inhalation Therapy Association (ITA) was formed
  • 1948 – Positive-pressure ventilator was introduced
  • 1954 – ITA becomes the American Association for Inhalation Therapists (AAIT)
  • 1958 – Bird Mark 7 was introduced
  • 1967 – Rapid blood gas analysis was introduced
  • 1968 – Fiberoptic bronchoscope was introduced
  • 1971 – CPAP was introduced
  • 1973 – AAIT becomes the American Association for Respiratory Therapists (AART)
  • 1974 – National Board for Respiratory Therapy (NBRT) was founded
  • 1983 – NBRT becomes the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC)
  • 1983 – Respiratory Care Week was nationally proclaimed by Ronald Reagan
  • 1984 – AART becomes the American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC)
  • 1994 – CDC published guidelines for ventilator-associated pneumonia prevention
  • 1998 – Committee on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC) was formed

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