• Assessing the relationship between abnormal blood gas findings and a patient’s overall clinical condition is often challenging.

  • Metabolic acidosis occurs in a variety of clinical contexts in pediatric intensive care units.

  • Nurses must know the basic concepts of acid-base balance, the 2 types of metabolic acidosis (normal and elevated anion gap acidosis), and the common causes of each type of metabolic acidosis.

Accurate assessment of the relationship between abnormal blood gas findings and a patient’s overall clinical condition is a common challenge for pediatric critical care nurses. To meet this challenge, nurses must understand the mechanisms underlying acid-base balance and the common causes of acid-base imbalance. Typically, acid-base balance is maintained by cellular buffers, the respiratory system, and the renal system. Often, when one or more mechanisms are compromised by illness or injury, the acid-base balance is also compromised. Clinically, the resulting imbalances...

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