JOURNAL ARTICLE
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A Systematic Approach to Understanding Acid-Base Disorders in the Critically Ill.

OBJECTIVE: The objective of this review is to discuss acid-base physiology, describe the essential steps for interpreting an arterial blood gas and relevant laboratory tests, and review the 4 distinct types of acid-base disorders.

DATA SOURCES: A comprehensive literature search and resultant bibliography review of PubMed from inception through March 7, 2023.

STUDY SELECTION AND DATA EXTRACTION: Relevant English-language articles were extracted and evaluated.

DATA SYNTHESIS: Critically ill patients are prone to significant acid-base disorders that can adversely affect clinical outcomes. Assessing these acid-base abnormalities can be complex because of dynamic aberrations in plasma proteins, electrolytes, extracellular volume, concomitant therapies, and use of mechanical ventilation. This article provides a systematic approach to acid-base abnormalities which is necessary to facilitate prompt identification of acid-base disturbances and prevent untoward morbidity and mortality.

RELEVANCE TO PATIENT CARE AND CLINICAL PRACTICE: Many acid-base disorders result from medication therapy or are treated with medications. Pharmacists are uniquely poised as the medication experts on the multidisciplinary team to assist with acid-base assessments in the context of pharmacotherapy.

CONCLUSION: The use of a systematic approach to address acid-base disorders can be performed by all pharmacists to improve pharmacotherapy and optimize patient outcomes.

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