Urine Specific Gravity Test: Results (Nursing)

by Rhonda Lawes, PhD, RN

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    00:00 So we can learn a lot from urine specific gravity.

    00:03 We're just starting to peek into what we can do.

    00:06 But just like any other test, if there's an abnormal value, you need to explore it more.

    00:13 When we say abnormal, if it's too low or too high, this is probably indicating an imbalance in the patient's fluid status.

    00:21 Now, a specific gravity won't tell me the cause, that's my job to figure it out.

    00:27 But a urine specific gravity test will tell me there's an imbalance.

    00:31 So, I'm going to need to dig into the possible causes for the abnormal value and figure out what assessments I need to do, what questions I need to ask.

    00:39 Because that's what nurses do.

    00:42 That is the fun part of getting a lab value back and applying it, figuring out what's going on in your patient so you can keep them safe.

    00:51 So this urine specific gravity measures the concentration.

    00:56 When we're talking about concentration, we're comparing the patient's urine to a standard of pure water.

    01:02 So this number will give us an indicator of the kidneys function and a person's bodily fluid status.

    01:09 Okay.

    01:10 So first out of the chute, what do we know? Urine specific gravity would tell me something about kidney function and something about your patient's body fluid status.

    01:21 We know the normal values 1.010 to 1.030.

    01:28 Now, I want you to do, can you remember what a neonate value is? See if you can remember what a normal baby baby kidneys value is.

    01:36 Right.

    01:37 1.003.

    01:39 Good deal, you're really tracking with us.

    01:42 I want to talk to you about abnormal values.

    01:45 I know you see a lot of numbers, and I use a lot of repetition, but that's by design, because I want you to hear the most important concepts over and over again.

    01:55 So that when you're practicing as a nurse, it pops right to the top of your head.

    01:59 So let's look at the abnormal values.

    02:01 We're talking about urine specific gravity.

    02:04 Whenever you're looking at lab tests, you think, "Okay, what is this test? Tell me about a patient?" Urine specific gravity tells you a lot about a fluid volume status.

    02:15 Now, you might hear your faculty say that or throw that word around, and you're thinking, "What do they mean?" Well, we're talking about the amount of volume in your intravascular space, your veins and your arteries.

    02:26 Okay, so...

    02:27 if it's appropriate, my heart can pump blood goes around at the right speed, we're not damaging organs, the kidneys aren't getting too much blood, or they're not getting enough blood.

    02:36 It's appropriate.

    02:38 It's just right, like Goldilocks would say.

    02:42 So urine specific gravity can kind of give me some information, a peek, into a patient's fluid volume status.

    02:49 Now, if they're getting too much fluid, I want to watch out for that because I could throw them into heart failure.

    02:55 If they're getting not enough fluid, if that balances out in that intravascular space.

    03:00 Then they're not going to perfuse my organs.

    03:04 So when I don't have enough volume on board, if it's severe enough, or for a long enough period of time, my kidneys start taking a hit.

    03:12 They're not perfused and could be damaged.

    03:14 So when you look at urine specific gravity, this is so much bigger than numbers.

    03:19 You're looking at how is that patient's overall body working? This lets me know if their current fluid intake is way too much, and I'm at risk and throwing them into failure or not enough, and we might throw them into hypovolemic shock.

    03:35 It's right.

    03:37 Urine specific gravity can help us peek into that, because it's the possible causes of the abnormal values that you need to look at, right? So when you get a number, that's not within a normal range, it's not just a number, it's a warning sign to you to know where to look for the bigger problem.

    03:54 So these are the things I want you to think through.

    03:56 Think about a heart condition.

    03:58 Remember, we're worried about someone's in heart failure.

    04:00 Think of the kidney problem, or a metabolic disorder like diabetes insipidus or SIADH.

    04:07 We'll talk more about those later, but they're super cool.

    04:11 Let me just remind you, that this is the beginning steps in understanding what's going on in the rest of your patient.

    04:19 If you have an abnormal value, that's an early warning sign to you to ask more questions.

    04:25 Look at their cardiovascular system, look at their renal system, look at their metabolic or endocrine system.

    04:30 It's going to give us clues to what is going wrong there.

    About the Lecture

    The lecture Urine Specific Gravity Test: Results (Nursing) by Rhonda Lawes, PhD, RN is from the course Urine Specific Gravity – Urinalysis (Nursing).

    Included Quiz Questions

    1. 1.004
    2. 1.015
    3. 1.042
    4. 1.030
    1. Hypovolemic shock
    2. Heart failure
    3. Diabetes insipidus
    4. Acute tubular necrosis

    Author of lecture Urine Specific Gravity Test: Results (Nursing)

     Rhonda Lawes, PhD, RN

    Rhonda Lawes, PhD, RN

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