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Guide to Commonly Tested Labs

Whether a patient is visiting for routine physical exams or coming in for a minor procedure, chances are the healthcare practitioner will order labs to be drawn. Typically the healthcare practitioner will be the one to interpret the results of blood tests and labs, however, it is expected that the nurses have a strong working knowledge of the most commonly tested labs, normal lab value ranges, and their implications. Please note: the normal range of lab values may differ by location, altitude, age, gender, etc.

This resource is not intended to be a complete list of all labs and their common causes. 



Download a printable copy of the Guide to Commonly Tested Labs


This resource is a vital concept for all nurses and may accompany any of our continuing education courses. View the general class catalog here.



Guide to Commonly Tested Labs
 

LAB LOW NORMAL RANGE HIGH
Na

Sodium
Common Causes: AIDS, CHF, cirrhosis, heavy sweating, nephrotic syndrome, NG suctioning, vomiting, 135 — 145 Common Causes: dehydration, dietary intake, diabetes, IV
Glu

Glucose
Common Causes:
too much insulin, hypoglycemic meds or propranolol, adrenal issues, malnutrition
  • < 40 is critical
70 — 110 Common Causes: diabetes, cushings, chronic pancreatitis
  • >~350 is critical
Phos

Phosphorus
Common Causes: alcoholism, diarrhea, hypercalcemia, refeeding syndrome, vomiting, vitamin D deficiency 2.5 — 4.5 Common Causes: hypoparathyroidism, cirrhosis, renal failure, diabetic ketoacidosis
K

Potassium
Common Causes: alkolosis, ascites, burns, diarrhea, low dietary intake, vomiting and diuretics, insulin 3.6 — 5.2 Common Causes: acidosis, dehydration, beta blockers, renal dysfunction
BUN

Blood Urea Nitrogen
Common Causes:
low protein diet, fluid overload, liver failure, nephrotic syndrome, starvation
8 — 25 Common Causes:
burns, dehydration, GI bleeding, post-renal obstruction, renal failure, shock, stress
Cr

Creatinine
Common Causes:
low muscle mass, vegetarian diet, pregnancy, advanced liver disease
0.6 — 1.2 Common Causes: hypothyroidism, renal failure, urinary tract obstruction
Alb

Albumin
Common Causes: chronic liver disease, kidney disease, CHF, diabetes, malnutrition, acute infections 3.4 — 5.4
 
Common Causes: dehydration, shock,
high protein diet
Ca

Calcium
Common Causes: alcoholism, chronic renal failure, Mg deficiency, vitamin D deficiency, pancreatitis 8.5 — 10.5 Common Causes:
bone cancer, renal failure, hyperparathyroidism
TG

Triglycerides
Common Causes: Hyperthyroidism, malabsorption, malnutrition < 150 Common Causes: 
cirrhosis, diabetes, fatty liver disease, pancreatitis, hypothyroidism, nephrotic syndrome, renal failure, obesity, stress




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