Help with memorizing ABGs

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    Profile photo of Becky Oloo LPN

    I am currently an LPN working towards an associate’s degree in nursing. Just when I thought I knew the difference between metabolic and respiratory acidosis or alkalosis, my instructors threw some new information in there to confuse me. How do I know if it’s partially compensated or uncompensated. Any help to remember the differences is greatly appreciated.


    Partially compensated is when the opposite system (metabolic or respiratory) system is outside the normal range, in a direction which would fix the problem (acidosis or alkalosis) caused by the other system, but the pH is still outside of the normal range.

    Fully compensated or compensated is when the other system has gone so far outside its normal range as to cause the pH to come back into the normal range.

    Here is the cheat sheet I made for my method of doing ABGs and you can “click here” to read the lecture I used to give on the topic for more information and practice problems:

    Here is a video some other Mighty Nurse has created on how to figure out ABGs:


    I watched You Tube videos, and found one by a guy that uses a tic tac toe format and I have nailed my ABG’s everytime using this method! [Edit by Jason your friendly moderator. The link which was provided here was to the exact same video as I listed above, just on a different server. Both are to the video” How to Master ABG’s” so the link was removed as you can watch the exact same video on Mighty Nurse. Thank you for posting.]

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