Knowing the different normal lab values is an important step in making an informed clinical decision as a nurse. Diagnostic and laboratory tests are tools that provide invaluable insights and information about the patient. Lab tests are used to help confirm a diagnosis, monitor an illness, and the patient’s response to treatment.

In the NCLEX, some questions supply laboratory results with no indication of the normal lab levels so you’ll have to familiarize yourself with them. NCLEX will not give you values that are within the normal range. Questions will usually include critical lab values and it’s a matter of identifying if it’s within normal range or not.

Lab Values Nursing NCLEX Review for Nurses and Nursing Students

What is the importance of learning lab values?

Its known that lab values play a significant role in helping identify medical conditions, but its also a requirement for a student to spot what a normal lab value is to pass their National Council Licensure Exam to become a registered nurse. By learning the lab values, you can educate patients about the process of coming up with the diagnosis, what youre testing for and explaining what constitutes a healthy patient.

However, this type of experience only comes through clinical experience earned through a residency program, so be sure to earn good grades during each stage of your academic career to be accepted into a notable program and increase your earnings potential.

What are lab values?

Lab values showcase many variables regarding body chemistry. Nurses take a look at lab values when examining a patient to see if any patterns lead to a specific condition. Nurses and the rest of the medical staff that work with patients may need to administer treatments quickly depending on the severity of any conditions discovered and diagnosed. Nurses usually begin to recognize lab values during their academic careers and study them consistently to prepare for treating patients and improving performances once earning a full-time role at a private practice or a hospital.

List of normal lab values

When youre examining a patient, you get a sample from them to run tests. Normal lab values provide you with a range of limits used to test for each patient, but these values can vary per patient.

With this in mind, its important to take note of the normal lab values when the sample you get interacts with other substances, so lets review a list of normal lab values that may affect a patients lab results.

Well break down the lab values based on whats being tested:

Red blood cells

Testing for red blood cells helps you find out if the patient has enough of them to carry oxygen throughout the body in addition to having the ability to release carbon dioxide from the body when exhaling.

Some lab values to test your red blood cell count include:

White blood cells

Testing your white blood cell count determines if you have an infection and other undiagnosed conditions like an autoimmune disease. It also serves as a measure of the efficiency of chemotherapy, and it can give you a prognosis for the patients future.

Lets look at the lab values measurements for a patients white blood cell count:


Hemoglobin is in every red blood cell and gives oxygen to body tissues. These results should be aligned with your patients red blood cell count to find out if their body is carrying enough oxygen. A high or low hemoglobin count may be an indicator of diseases troubling their red blood cells.

Take a look at the normal lab values below:


Testing for hematocrit identifies if a patients body has too much or too little of an amount for red blood cells. Test results separate from the normal lab values shown below may indicate a blood disorder or a case of dehydration.

Lets review the sample of normal lab values for this condition:

Cardiac markers

Testing for cardiac markers displays if there is an abnormality with the blood flow to the patients arteries.

Normal cardiac markers for lab values include:


Testing urine can be done to determine if the patient has a urinary tract infection, diabetes, kidney stones or other conditions related to the kidney or the liver. This is a part of a patients annual physical, so it is a convenient method of locating unknown conditions.

Some lab levels you trace in urine are:


Testing for coagulation reveals if a patients blood clots normally and how much time it takes to do so. The time it takes for it to clot can make it easier for you to classify how excessive the bleeding is and the potential treatment options for patients. The normal lab value for average bleeding time is three to seven minutes.

Cerebral spinal fluid

Testing for cerebral spinal fluid gives you a clear picture of if the patient has a brain or spinal cord disease. Meningitis is a brain and spinal cord condition that young adults get vaccinated for before they go to college, and it can be caused by an infection.

Take a look at the two lab values below and what they measure:


You can test for many neurological conditions that affect the central nervous system, such as epilepsy, Alzheimers disease and Parkinsons.

Two lab values you can test for these conditions can be:


What are common lab values?

Laboratory Reference Ranges in Healthy Adults
  • Ammonia: 15-50 µmol/L.
  • Ceruloplasmin: 15-60 mg/dL.
  • Chloride: 95-105 mmol/L.
  • Copper: 70-150 µg/dL.
  • Creatinine: 0.8-1.3 mg/dL.
  • Blood urea nitrogen: 8-21 mg/dL.
  • Ferritin: 12-300 ng/mL (men), 12-150 ng/mL (women)
  • Glucose: 65-110 mg/dL.

What are the most important lab values?

Here are important lab values for the complete blood count test:
  • Red Blood Cells: Men- 4.32 – 5.72 million cells/ mcL; Women- 3.90 – 5.03 million cells/ mcL.
  • White Blood Cells: 3500 – 9600 cells/ mcL.
  • Platelets: Men- 135,000 – 317,000 cells/ mcL; Women- 157,000 – 371,000 cells/ mcL.

What do lab values tell you?

Lab values are used to determine a patient’s overall health and well-being. There are many factors that can affect a patient’s result and lab values but some of the most common factors are gender, age, race, the medicines taken, and the presence of any underlying condition(s).

What lab values should nurses know?

Must-Know Nursing Lab Values
  • pH: 7.35 – 7.45.
  • PaCO2: 35-45.
  • HCO3: 22-26.
  • BUN: 5-10.
  • Cholesterol: <200.
  • Glucose: 70-100.
  • HCT: F:36-46 M42-53.
  • HgB :F:12 – 15 M:14 – 17.

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