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A respiratory physician (respiratory and sleep medicine specialist) is a medical professional who specialises in diagnosing, treating and preventing conditions and diseases affecting the respiratory (breathing) system.

Respiratory diseases affect the nose, nasal passages, sinuses, throat, larynx, trachea (windpipe), lungs, chest wall, diaphragm, pulmonary circulation (circulation of the blood through the lungs) and the ventilatory control system in the brain.

Services provided

  • Diagnosis and treatment of respiratory disorders such as:
    • Asthma
    • Breathing-related sleep disorders
    • Cancer
    • Chronic cough
    • Chronic bronchitis
    • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
    • Cystic fibrosis
    • Emphysema
    • Interstitial lung disease
    • Pneumonia
    • Pulmonary vascular disorders (affect the circulation of the blood through the lungs)
    • Pulmonary hypertension
    • Sleep apnoea
    • Tuberculosis
  • Surgical procedures such as:
    • Bronchoscopy
    • Insertion of catheters (for drainage) or stents (to keep airways open)
    • Lobectomy (removal of one of the lobes of the lung)
    • Lung biopsy
    • Lung transplant
  • Emergency ventilation
  • Lung function testing
  • Pleural ultrasound


You need a referral from a doctor to see a respiratory physician.

How to access

Ask your doctor about how to make an appointment with your respiratory physician.


Respiratory physician services may be partly or fully covered by Medicare.

Respiratory physician fees are covered by some private health funds, but the amount will depend on your insurance policy. Contact your insurer for more information.



Conventional healthcare


Regulated by Australian Health Practitioner Agency (AHPRA).


Respiratory physicians must be registered through the Royal Australasian College of Physicians. Respiratory physicians must be registered through the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), with the Medical Board of Australia.

Minimum qualifications

The minimum education requirement for a respiratory physician is Fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (FRACP).


  • Take results of any tests with you (such as x-rays, ultrasounds, MRIs).