All critically ill patients are at risk for hematological complications during their hospitalization. It is essential that critical care nurses understand the hematological system and common complications. The purpose of this article is to briefly review some basic hematologic concepts involving each of the 3 cell lines: the white blood cell, the red blood cell, and platelets. The content focuses on how to assess these cell lines when there is dysfunction. Examples of disease processes involving the increased and decreased production of each cell line as well as destruction processes are discussed from a critical care perspective. The critical care nurse needs to continually incorporate this information into practice as research continues to formulate critical care practice.

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