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Blood Tests Save Lives If You Know What To Look For

To be a great internist you have to be great at blood gas interpretation. And you have to be able to do it quickly and efficiently. You have to understand what all the numbers mean and you have to get a good clinical sense of how to interpret them and how to change management based on their result. And you have to be able to do it without pulling out your formula books. In six years as a hospitalist I have never calculated what the compensatory responses should be. I just know.

Sometimes blood gases change your management or your medical opinion on what’s happening. Take for example my patient with advanced MS. She presented through the emergency department with “oropharyngeal bleeding of unclear etiology”. Her original BMP:

Na 137
K 4.0
CL 99
HCO3 36
BUN 35
CR 1.0
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*This blog post was originally published at A Happy Hospitalist*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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