please help me with ABG's

Nurses General Nursing


So here is the deal, I start in the ICU tomorrow- however, I have lots of classroom time and buddied time and I am taking a critical care program to boot- however, I keep going over the ABG interpretation material and I keep getting confused- I tried google and just typed in "ABG's" but so much came up- can anyone recommend a site or even better a method for this topic- needless to say, I NEED to know this stuff and will persist until I do understand it frontways and back.

Thank you !


ERNurse752, RN

1,323 Posts

I did a search on ABG interpretation on yahoo, and here is what I got:

Hopefully some of these might have something to help you! :)

woo 2

32 Posts

i do abg's by a tic tac toe method make a grid put the norms on top and then fill in the other areas when you get 3 in a row you should know if you are acidotic or alkalotic the other thing you can do is the ROME method Respiratory is opposite , so if your ph is down and your co2 is up you are acidoitc Metabolic is Equal, ph and hco 3 down your acid ph and hco3 up your alkalotic. excuse spelling hope this helps

hoolahan, ASN, RN

1 Article; 1,721 Posts

Specializes in Home Health.

I wouldn't stress out too much about it at this point. I think once you start working with vents and get to apply the book knowledge, it will click for you.

I read a thousand times how when someone goes into a-fib, they lose 20% of cardiac output w/ loss of atrial kick, but until I actually witnessed this in the OR, with CO done before and immediately after pt going into a-fib, it was book knowledge, which of course is very important, but when you get to see it feel it, touch it, experience it, it is much more meaningful.

So, the first time you make vent changes and see a pt improve clinically and abg-wise, it will make a lasting impression. Well, it did for me. It also depends on what kind of a learner you are too.

Don't worry. No one will expect you to walk in the first day knowing all of this. Just the fact that you are worrying and want to do your best is a great sign!! You will be a great Critical Care nurse!!


487 Posts

Thanks for the follow up, info and support.

Hoolahan- you make alot of sense- thank you. Obviously experience counts.............thanks again


252 Posts

Take a 3x5 card with all the references. You can also add the formula for calculating ion gap differences. Find some patients with problems and review their gases. It will make a lot more sense on real patients.



6,011 Posts


Mark Hammerschmidt has a really good site for ICU type questions.

I think you will be well pleased with it. Totally K.I.S.S.


Doey, BSN, RN

93 Posts

When I first started learning about ABGs I would get confused too. For me it was a matter of repeatedly going over information. Dealing with actual patients helps to bring it all together too. I would jot down a pts ABGs and any other pertinent info along with what was ordered/done etc. and go over it at home until I understood what was going on.

Here's a few sites that might help you.

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