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Top advice for nurses in the new year

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2. Do I need to memorize common lab values?

Memorizing common lab values used to be a toughie, but thanks to the modern electronic health record (EHR) and full computer access, nurses don’t need to memorize most lab values.

The other caveat to lab values is that each institution has its own set of normal value ranges. One “norm” may not be the same as in another neighboring institution or facility. The difference is usually ± 1 to 3 percent.

As a nurse, it’s normally your job to notice and address extreme values that do not coincide with your patient assessment, but always keep them in the context of the patient.

And to make matters even more complicated, some values will be read and displayed using different methods of measurement. Instead of mmHg, they could use cm of H2O. Just something to pay attention to.

Outside of memorizing the values outright, here are a couple of helpful tips to keep in mind:

Hemoglobin and Hematocrit (H and H)

  • General rule of thumb is a 1:3 ratio
  • Hematocrit should be approximately 3x the Hemoglobin
  • Norm ~ Hgb 10 / Hct 30 (minimum values)
  • Also Hgb 13 / Hct 40 accepted

See the rest of the helpful tips.

Next: How to maintain each patient’s dignity →

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