Respiratory care professionals make important decisions daily. Directors faced with escalating health care costs must decide where they can pare their budgets and allocate funds so as to meet their facilities’ bottom line and not short change patients. Managers responsible for staffing must choose among an ever-shrinking pool of candidates and figure out how to stretch their staff without putting the patient population at risk. RTs “on the floor” are the ultimate decision makers. Their actions directly affect the care of patients and the outcomes of treatment: “Is my patient a candidate for ventilator weaning?” “What is the best way to maintain this patient’s airway: through nasotracheal suctioning with its attendant risks or by establishing an artificial airway, which also carries some risk?” “Why isn’t this preemie ‘pinking up’ despite my best efforts, and what should I try next?” Protocols, guidelines, and algorithms are well-established, valuable tools, but ultimately RTs must depend on their own training and experience on the “front line” of respiratory care.

For the respiratory care professionals responsible for making purchasing decisions, there are a slew of factors to consider: initial cost of the equipment; expected lifetime; warranties; maintenance considerations; and, of course, reimbursement, among them. Ensuring that patients have access to the most up-to-date equipment while staying within budget can be daunting.

In this product focus issue, we present information on an array of products that will be of value to all decision makers. Here is an opportunity to evaluate and compare hundreds of products from dozens of manufacturers. Each product has its unique attributes; all are designed to offer the best in patient care.

You can also evaluate these products online at RT’s Web site, www.rtmagazine.com. There, in addition to being able to browse through the products, you can read the top respiratory care news updated daily, participate in our Web poll, where you can weigh in with your opinion on key industry issues, access the Buyer’s Editor’s Message and link to other respiratory care-targeted Web sites. It’s your decision.