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What Does Metabolic Acidosis Mean?

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The Anion Gap

The anion gap is a tool used to: Confirm that an acidosis is indeed metabolic Narrow down the cause of a metabolic acidosis Monitor the progress of treatment In a metabolic acidosis the anion gap is usually either ‘Normal’ or ‘High’. In rare cases it can be ‘low’, usually due to hypoalbuminaemia. An ABG machine will often give a print out of the anion gap, but it can also be useful to know how it is calculated. In blood, there are many cations and anions. However, the vast majority of the total number are potassium, sodium, chloride, or bicarbonate. The ‘anion’ gap is an artificial measure, which is calculated by subtracting the total number of anions (negatively charged ions – bicarbonate and chloride) from the total number of cations (sodium and potassium). Thus, the formula is: ([Na+]+ [K+]) –([Cl–]+ [HCO3–]) In reality, the concentration of potassium anions is negligible, and this often omitted. There are usually more measurable cations than anions, and thus a normal anion gap is value is positive. A normal value is usually 3-16, but may vary slightly depending on the technique used by the local laboratory. If the anion gap is <30, then there may not be Continue reading >>

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Popular Questions

  1. One of our CDI noted an elevated lactic acid and queried the physician for a diagnosis. The patient did not have Sepsis. Our physician advisor said not to do that because the next lactic acid was normal. She said we should also be looking for the underlying cause of the lactic acidosis and not querying for the diagnosis. A diagnosis of lactic acidosis will give us a CC. Other CDI's have said that if the elevated lactic acid was treated, monitored or evaluated we should be querying for the diagnosis. Does anyone have any direction on how this should be handled?
    Is lactic acidosis always inherent in other conditions and that's what we should focus on?
    What can we pick up the diagnosis by itself as a CC / when should we query to get to documented in the chart?
    Are there any other clinical parameters we should be looking at when evaluating whether we should query such as the anion gap?
    Is there a specific treatment for metabolic acidosis?
    Thank you,
    Christine Butka RN MSN
    CDI Lead
    CentraState Medical Center
    Freehold, NJ

  2. What a timely comment. Recently, our coding auditor suggested that we should always keep an eye out for the cc "acidosis". It seems to me that lactic acidosis could be inherent to the disease process of sepsis and therefore should not be captured. Any thoughts?
    Yvonne B RN CDI Salinas, CA.

  3. Hello all! I agree, I believe lactic acidosis is inherent to sepsis. It is one of the most important indicators that gives the clnician a clue that sepsis may be present. Our fluid administration policy was actually developed on the lactic acid result: the higher the number, the more fluid we bolused (in non-CHF patients, of course). In cases were Sepsis is determined not to be present, we will query the provider, providing they treated or monitored the acidosis in some manner
    Shiloh

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