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Labs for viral vs bacterial infection

To the ER ARNPs:

could you explain what you look for when you draw labs and are trying to determine viral vs bacterial infection? Is there a pattern that will present to give you a clear idea of the diagnosis?

thanks!

BostonFNP, APRN

Specializes in Adult Internal Medicine. Has 9 years experience.

Are you an NP?

I am not. Newer nurse trying to pick up on what I can. I figured that I would get a more knowledgeable answer from ARNPs that diagnose these conditions.

Man, it would be scary if I were an NP and didn't know how to diagnose!! Haha. Didn't realize that it might have come across that I was an NP in my initial post. Sorry, I should have explained.

First I look at the WBC--if elevated, almost always bacterial. Then look at differential. If neutrophils high (left shift), bacterial. If lymphocytes high (right shift), viral. Also, if granulocytosis, probably bacterial.

First I look at the WBC--if elevated, almost always bacterial. Then look at differential. If neutrophils high (left shift), bacterial. If lymphocytes high (right shift), viral. Also, if granulocytosis, probably bacterial.

Thank you so much. I'm just trying to learn what I can! I appreciate your response.

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