Key messages

• PaCO2 falls into one of three categories: respiratory alkalosis (alveolar hyperventilation), normal alveolar ventilation, or respiratory acidosis (ventilatory failure).

• Classification of the arterial pH in relation to PaCO2 allows one to determine whether the primary abnormality is ventilatory (respiratory acid-base imbalance) or metabolic acid-base imbalance.

• Complete assessment of the arterial oxygenation status requires measurement of PaO2, oxyhemoglobin saturation, and hemoglobin content.

• There is no scientific justification for the routine practice of temperature correcting blood gas measurements when alterations in body temperature are present.

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