Arterial blood gas (ABG) interpretation is a common investigation used within Emergency Departments and Intensive Care Units.

Arterial blood gases provide an accurate representation of the patient’s respiratory function and overall clinical status. An ABG is a blood test that measures the pH, partial pressure of oxygen and carbon dioxide.

The information from ABGs can provide an indicator of the efficiency of the gaseous exchange. It is important you have an understanding of ABG values and can interpret their meaning.

Keep in mind that ABG’s provide one aspect of a patient’s respiratory function and should be assessed alongside a complete health history, general observation, signs and symptoms, vital signs and physical examination.

Arterial blood gas (ABG) interpretation
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Acids, bases, pH, and buffers
Even if you’ve never set foot in a chemistry lab, chances are you know a thing or two about acids and bases.

Arterial blood gas (ABG) interpretation is something many medical students find difficult to grasp (we’ve been there). We’ve created this guide, which aims to provide a structured approach to ABG interpretation whilst also increasing your understanding of each results relevance.

Interpreting ABGs: Simple and Easy
Arterial blood gasses, or ABGs, may be among the most complex and confusing parts of nursing practice.

Acid Base Disorders
rterial blood gas analysis is used to determine the adequacy of oxygenation and ventilation, assess respiratory function and determine the acid–base balance.

Know Your ABGs – Arterial Blood Gases Explained
Arterial Blood Gases (ABG) can be difficult and confusing to understand at first. However, it’s a crucial skill for nurses, physicians, respiratory therapists, and nursing students to learn.

Albert, T. J., & Swenson, E. R. (2016). Circumstances when arterial blood gas analysis can lead us astray. Respiratory Care, 61(1), 119-121. doi:10.4187/respcare.04556

Larkin, B. G., & Zimmanck, R. J. (2015). Interpreting arterial blood gases successfully. AORN Journal, 102(4), 343-357. doi:10.1016/j.aorn.2015.08.002