The breathing tubes are prone to harboring infectious bacteria. If you have seen a staff member come into the room, disconnect the plastic accordion tube, shake the water out, and reconnect it - that is the respiratory therapist. This apparatus needs to be changed at regular intervals, every one to three days. Hospitals with cash flow problems are likely to require changing these disposable items less often to save money. While there is some leeway in this, the respiratory therapists and nurses must keep these tubes clean and dry at all times. The best way to accomplish this is to have two sets for each bedside so the respiratory therapy department can clean one while the other is in use. Additionally, the therapists and nurses must be diligent in removing the water that collects in the external airflow system. The moisture transforms the system into a breeding ground for infection. The respiratory therapists are required to keep a record of their visits and what they do.
If you have any doubts as to whether the respiratory therapists are maintaining the respirator system properly, you can ask the nursing supervisor to check the records. Most hospitals have a policy to prohibit patients and their designees from reading their hospital charts.