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Utilization of Arterial Blood Gas Measurements in a Large Tertiary Care Hospital

Stacy E.F. Melanson MD, PhD, Trevor Szymanski, Selwyn O. Rogers Jr MD, MPH, Petr Jarolim MD, PhD, Gyorgy Frendl MD, PhD, James D. Rawn MD, Zara Cooper MD, Massimo Ferrigno MD
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1309/ELH5BPQ0T17RRK0M 604-609 First published online: 1 April 2007


We describe the patterns of utilization of arterial blood gas (ABG) tests in a large tertiary care hospital. To our knowledge, no hospital-wide analysis of ABG test utilization has been published. We analyzed 491 ABG tests performed during 24 two-hour intervals, representative of different staff shifts throughout the 7-day week. The clinician ordering each ABG test was asked to fill out a utilization survey. The most common reasons for requesting an ABG test were changes in ventilator settings (27.6%), respiratory events (26.4%), and routine (25.7%). Of the results, approximately 79% were expected, and a change in patient management (eg, a change in ventilator settings) occurred in 42% of cases. Many ABG tests were ordered as part of a clinical routine or to monitor parameters that can be assessed clinically or through less invasive testing. Implementation of practice guidelines may prove useful in controlling test utilization and in decreasing costs.

Key Words:
  • Arterial blood gases
  • Utilization
  • Laboratory tests