Nursing Info: Common Lab Values
Although a nurse is not expected to have the same knowledge as a physician, there is some basic knowledge that could be pertinent in determining whether or not a nurse should be concerned about one of her patients. Knowing information, such as vital signs, common lab values, and signs and symptoms of an illness are extremely important pieces of information for a nurse. This will guide her, in her assessment of the patient that she is caring for.
When a patient has their blood drawn, urine specimen tested, or some other procedure requiring laboratory testing, the lab will send back a report regarding it. On the report will be a listing of the various lab tests that were done, the common lab values for that test, and the patient’s results.
Here is a list of some of the laboratory tests, what they measure, and the common lab values for that test:
Nursing: Common Lab Values
Red Blood Cells
This oxygen carrying cell will let the nurse or physician know if a patient is getting enough oxygen in the body. Red blood cells contain hemoglobin, the oxygen carrier.
Normal value: 4.2-6.2 million/mm3.
Leukocyte count or white blood cell count will diagnose infection in the body. It will determine the number of WBCs that are in the body.
Normal value: 5000-10,000/mm3.
This test the volume percentage of red blood cells in the blood. It can alert medical professionals to possible problems, such as COPD, bone marrow abnormalities, dehydration, anemia, and more.
Normal value: 38%-54%.
A person with diabetes will need to have this performed several times a year. The values of this test will determine the diabetic patient’s course of treatment.
Normal value: 12-18 g/dL.
Platelets help the blood to clot. This will determine the number of platelets that are in the body. This count could also play in part of the treatment for other conditions, such as in bone marrow or chemotherapy.
Normal value: 150,000-450,000/mm3.
This test will determine the levels any heightened level of uric acid. This test is important in cases of radiation, chemotherapy, and gout.
Normal value: 2.7-8.5 mg/dL.
Prothrombin time or PT results will determine the effectiveness of blood thinning agents (anticoagulants). The results will determine the dosage given to the patient, which could change weekly. A PT can also determine a bleeding problem.
Normal value: 9.5-11.8 sec.
Partial Thromboplastin Time
This lab test will alert the nurse or physician of how long it takes for a patient’s blood to clot. This test is performed on those with a bleeding disorder.
Normal value: 30-45 sec.
The ESR or sedimentation rate signals inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis.
Normal value: C20-C30 mm/hr.
This measures the electrolyte and mineral in the blood, which can signal problems with the nerves, muscles, kidneys, and more. This test will also determine dehydration, a common condition.
Normal value: 3.5-5.0 mEq/L.
A BUN or blood urea nitrogen test is a lab test that checks the functioning of the kidneys.
Normal value: 6-20 mg/dL.
This lab test is done to see how well your kidneys are functioning. Kidneys remove the creatinine from the body. If creatinine levels are high, the kidneys are not doing their job.
Normal value: 0.5-1.3 mg/dL.
Laboratory testing can be affected by several factors, such as medication, stress, food, and more. It is important that the patient follow the directions prior to having lab work. This could include fasting or not taking a particular medication before the lab work is completed. The results could be the difference in normal lab values or abnormal lab values.