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   When first entering a medically related field, one must learn the language in order to function. Part of learning this language is to learn the meaning of the abbreviations, acronyms, and symbols in use. This chapter is intended to introduce newcomers to this commonly used medically related shorthand.
   The determination of which abbreviations (refers also to acronyms and symbols) are most commonly used is based on the selection by the author with the consultation of experts in various health-related fields. The categorizing of the abbreviations is arbitrary, but is intended to represent the most common use, as the abbreviation could have been placed in many different catergories.
   This list could have been expanded to include many hundreds-more commonly used abbreviations, but then the list would have been too long to serve as a primer. The absence of an abbreviation from this listing does not mean it is not in common use. Each area of practice and specialty could have added their own commonly used abbreviations.
   A few of the abbreviations below have more than one meaning listed. This was done when several meanings are in common use. Many abbreviations have more than one meaning and they must be viewed in their clinical context to arrive at their intended meaning. Utilize the Abbreviation Search to find additional meanings for the abbreviations.
   In practice, there are inconsistencies as to how abbreviations are written. They may appear in all capital letters, lowers case, or in capital letters and lower case. They may or may not have periods after each letter.
Readers are urged to read the contents of the MedAbbrev Do Not Use List where many dangerous, contradictory, and/or ambiguous abbreviations are listed.
Two Hundred and Seventy-five Commonly Used Medical Abbreviations
Arranged by Category - A Primer
Physical Examination, History Portion of the Medical Record,
and Discharge Summary
C/Ocomplains of
CCchief complaint(s)
CTAclear to ausculation
FHfamily history
H/Ohistory of
HPIhistory of present illness
PEphysical examination; pelvic examination; pulmonary embolism
PH/SHpersonal and social history
PIpresent illness
PMHpast medical history
ROSreview of systems
SHsocial history
EENTears, eyes, nose and throat
HEENThead, ears, eyes, nose and throat
Ob/Gynobstetrics and gynecology
UCDusual childhood diseases
A & Pauscultation and percussion
ADLactivities of daily living
CN IIIthird cranial nerve (there are CN I to XII)
RCMright costal margin (there is also a LCM)
RUQright upper quadrant (also there is RLQ, LUQ and LLQ)
TMtympanic membrane
AAOX 3alert, awake and oriented to person, place and time
BMbowel movement
BPblood pressure
CVATcostovertebral angle tenderness
DTRdeep tendon reflex
EOMIextraocular muscles intact
HJRhepatojugular reflux
JVDjugular venous distention
IBWideal body weight
LBWlean body weight
BSAbody surface area
LMPlast menstrual period
NADno apparent distress; no apparent disease
NC/ATnormocephalic, atraumatic
NKAno known allergies
NKDAno known drug allergies
o.d.right eye
o.s.left eye
o.u.both eyes
PERRLApupils equal, round,reactive to light and accomodation
IOPintraocular pressure
ROMrange of motion
VSvital signs
RRrespiratory rate; recovery room
HRheart rate
RRRregular rate amd rhythm (heart)
WDWNWMwell developed, well nourished, white male (also there are abbreviations for females and other races [WF=white female; AAF=African-American female])
YOyear old
DOBdate of birth
  +positive; present; plus
  -negative; absent; minus
  õnegative; without
Diseases and Symptoms
ADAlzheimer disease
AIDSacquired immunodeficiency syndrome
HIVhuman immunodeficiency virus
AMIacute myocardial infarction
MImyocardial infarction
CHFcongestive heart failure
ACSacute coronary syndrome
HThypertension (also HTn);height
DMdiabetes mellitus
AODMadult onset diabetes mellitus
IDDMinsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus
NIDDMnoninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus
PDParkinson disease
AOMacute otitis media
COADchronic obstructive airway disase
COPDchronic obstructive pulmonary disease
DOEdyspnea on exertion
SOBshortness of breath
URIupper respiratory infection
CVAcerebrovascular accident; costovertebral angle
DVTdeep vein thrombosis
NVnausea and vomiting
NVDnausea, vomiting, and diarrhea; neck vein distention
PONVpostoperative nausea and vomiting
PUDpeptic ulcer disease
GERDgastroesophageal reflux disease
RArheumatoid arthritis
SLEsystemic lupus erythematosus
TIAtransient ischemic attack
BPHbenign prostatic hypertrophy (hyperplasia)
UTIurinary tract infection
STDsexually transmitted disease
MVAmotor vehicle accident
Clinical Laboratory
ANAantinuclear antibody
ALTalanine aminotransferase
LFTliver function test
aPTTactivated partial thromboplastin time
ASTasparate aminotransferase
BGblood glucose; blood gases
BSblood sugar; bowel sounds; breath sounds
BUNblood urea nitrogen
CK-MBcreatine Kinase, MB function
CO2carbon dioxide
CPKcreatinine phosphokinase
CrClcreatinine clearance
C & Sculture and sensitivity
ESRerythrocyte sedimentation rate
FBSfasting blood sugar
HbA1cglycosylated hemoglobin
HDLhigh-density lipoprotein
LDLlow-density lipoprotein
LDHlactic dehydrogenase
INRinternational normalized ratio
DBdirect bilirubin
TBtotal bilirubin
TPtotal protein
CaCalcium (also Ca++)
ClChloride (also Cl-)
KPotassium (also K+)
MgMagnesium (also Mg++)
NaSodium (also Na+)
OGTToral glucose tolerance test
PSAprostate-specific antigen
VDRLVenereal Disease Research Laboratory (test for syphilis)
CBCcomplete blood count
Diffdifferential (blood count)
MCVmean corpuscular volume
RBCred blood cell (count)
Segssegmented neutrophils
WBCwhite blood cell (count)
ABGarterial blood gases
WNLwithin normal limits
Other Diagnostic Tests, Procedures, and Treatments
FEV1forced expiratory volume in one second
IPPBintermittent positive-pressure breathing
PFTpulmonary function tests
PEEPpositive end-expiratory pressure
MUGAmultigated (radionuclide) angiogram
CTcomputer tomography
IVPintravenous pyelogram
MRImagnetic resonance imaging
PETpositron imaging tomography
CABGcoronary artery bypass graft
PCTApercutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty
PTphysical therapy
D & Cdilation & curettage
Physicians' Orders and Prescriptions
ASAPas soon as possible
OOBout of bed
BRPbathroom privileges
CPRcardiopulmonary resuscitation
DNRdo not resuscitate
DAWdispense as written
DC or D/Cdischarge; discontinue
I/Ointake and output
LDloading dose
NASno salt added
n.p.onothing by mouth mouth; postoperative
SQsubcutaneous (subcut preferred)
PICCpercutaneous indwelling central catheter
IVPBintravenous piggyback
NGTnasogastric tube
qevery (as in q 6 hours)
b.i.d.twice daily
t.i.d.three times daily
q.i.d.four times daily
q.a.m.every morning
q.p.m.every evening
a.c.before meals
p.c.after meals
h.s.bedtime refills (prescriptions)
p.r.nas required; whenever necessary
MRx1may repeat one time
Rxprescription; pharmacy
OTCover-the-counter (no prescription required)
TKOto keep (vein) open
TOtelephone order
VOverbal order
Drug Names (It is dangerous to abbreviate drug names)
5D/Wdextrose 5% injection (in water)
ETOHAlcohol (ethyl alcohol)
FeSO4ferrous sulfate
H2O2hydrogen peroxide
HClhydrochloride (when following a drug name, as in thiamine HCl [thiamine hydrochloride])
hydrochloric acid (when it appears separately [not as part of a drug name])
KClpotassium chloride
MgSO4magnesium sulfate
MOMmilk of magnesia
NaClsodium chloride
NSnormal saline (0.9% sodium chloride; same as NSS)
NSSnormal saline solution (0.9% sodium chloride)
tPAtissue plasminogen activator
IVFintravenous fluids
TPNtotal parenteral nutrition
lyteselectrolytes (sodium, potassium, chloride, etc.)
Drug Classes
COX-2 Icyclooxygenase-2 inhibitor
MOAImonoamine oxidase inhibitor
NSAIDnonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug
OCoral contraceptive
PPIproton pump inhibitor
SSRIselective serotonin reuptake inhibitor
TCAtricyclic antidrpressant
Units of Measure
cmcentimeter (2.54 cm = 1 inch)
ggram (28.35g = 1 ounce
kgkilogram (1 kg=2.2 pounds)
Lliter (1 L = 1,000 ml = 1 quart plus about 2 ounces)
lbpound (1 lb = 0.454 Kg)
mcgmcg (1,000 mcg = 1 milligram [mg])
mgmilligram (1,000 mg = 1 gram [g])
mLmilliliter (1000 (mL = 1 liter [L])
mmHgmillimeters of mercury
°Cdegrees Centigrade
°Fdegrees Farenheit
Hospital Locations
CCUcardiac care unit
DRdelivery room
EDemergency department
ERemergency room ( same as ED)
ICUintensive care unit
L & Dlabor and delivery
LDRlabor, delivery and recovery
MICUmedical intensive care unit
NICUneonatal intensive care unit
ORoperating room
PACUpostanesthesia care unit
PICUpediatric intensive care unit; pulmonary intensive care
RDradiology department
SICUsurgical intensive care unit
APRNAdvanced Practice Registered Nurse
CNSClinical Nurse Specialist
DODoctor of Osteopathy
DDSDoctor of Dental Surgery
LPNLicensed Pratical Nurse
MAMedical Assistant
MARmedication administration record
MDDoctor of Medicine
PAPhysician Assistant
PharmDDoctor of Pharmacy
PTPhysical Therapist (Therapy)
RDRegistered Dietitian
RPhRegistered Pharmacist
RNRegistered Nurse