Critically ill patients present with a myriad of hematologic problems of various etiologies. The astute advanced practice nurse carefully reviews laboratory data incorporating principles of diagnostic reasoning and critical thinking while developing the plan of care. An in-depth understanding of hematology including red blood cells, red blood cell indices, and coagulation laboratory data is essential in the quest to understand the patient’s pathophysiology.

With every decade, nurses and physicians learn more about diseases that have plagued mankind for centuries—learning in greater detail about the deleterious effects and subsequent outcomes that often begin as subtle changes in traditional laboratory data. Greater focus on interpreting hematologic data and seeking support for diagnoses in clinical correlates will serve nurses well.

This article intends to move advanced practice nurses beyond their current understanding of hematologic values—enabling them to understand that how and why we measure is as important as what we measure. No longer is it enough to simply measure physiologic data to develop a care plan driven by the patient’s diagnoses. The contemporary nurse understands the importance of assigning meaning to data. Meaningful data are manageable data.

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