Intended for healthcare professionals


Arterial blood gases and acid-base balance

BMJ 1999; 318 doi: (Published 13 March 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;318:734

Knowledge of bicarbonate concentrations is needed to assess respiratory failure

  1. Peter C Matthews, Specialist registrar in anaesthesia (
  1. Morriston Hospital, Swansea SA6 6NL
  2. St Helier Hospital, Carshalton, Surrey SM5 1AA

    EDITOR—Williams has not emphasised the importance of looking at the bicarbonate concentration in patients presenting with respiratory failure.1 Depressingly often, intensive care doctors are presented with patients rendered unnecessarily hypoxic by the casualty or medical teams: any patients with a raised arterial carbon dioxide concentration are immediately starved of oxygen in case they stop breathing. The teams should look at the bicarbonate …

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