In common with many other industries, the health care field has its own “shorthand.” Listed below are some of the words and abbreviations frequently used in a hospital setting.
When speaking with a health care professional check their photo ID badges to become familiar with the staff. Please be sure to ask for an explanation of anything you don’t fully understand.
Attending (MD)—a physician with primary responsibility for a patient’s care.
Child Life Specialist—educated in child development, Child Life Specialists work with children and families to help them cope with being in the hospital. They use education, medical play and activities to help the child feel more comfortable. They also organize and supervise the playroom and can provide toys and games at the bedside.
Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)—a nurse who has graduated from an accredited school of vocational nursing but has less extensive clinical training than a registered nurse.
Medical Students (MS)— students completing their last few years of medical school. They work under close supervision and do not make independent decisions about diagnosis or treatments.
Nurse Practitioner (NP)—a registered nurse with at least a master’s degree in nursing and advanced education in a medical specialty.
Registered Nurse (RN)—a nurse who has graduated from an accredited nursing program, has passed the state exam for licensure, and is registered and licensed to practice by a state authority.
Residents—physicians completing more specialized training. They participate in the patient’s care under the direction of an attending physician.
Service—a division of the hospital medical staff devoted to a particular specialty.
Click here for Medical Abbreviations
- AMA—Against Medical Advice
- ac—before meals.
- ad lib—as desired.
- ASAP—as soon as possible.
- ASD—Atrial Septal defect. A congenital defect in the heart between the atria.
- BID—twice a day (sometimes q12h or every 12 hours).
- BM—Bowel Movement.
- BP—Blood Pressure.
- BRP—Bathroom Privileges.
- CBC—Complete Blood Count
- cc—Cubic Centimeters.
- CC—Chief Complaint.
- CBC—complete blood count.
- CNS—Central Nervous System.
- c/o—Complaints of
- COPD—Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.
- CPAP—Continuous Positive Airway Pressure.
- CPR—Cario-Pulmonary Resuscitation.
- CT—Computed Tomography, also referred to as CAT (computer axial tomography). Three dimensional image of a body structure constructed by computer from a series of cross-sectional images. CT scans reveal both bone and soft tissues, including organs, muscles and tumors.
- DNR—Do Not Resuscitate.
- DOB—Date of Birth.
- ECG or EKG—Electrocardiogram. A graphic record of the action of the heart.
- EEG—(electroencephalogram) measures electrical activity of the brain.
- ENT—Ear, Nose and Throat.
- ED—Emergency Department
- ER—Emergency Room
- Gastrosomy Tube—Surgical Drainage.
- GB—Gall Bladder.
- HOB—Head of Bed.
- hx—History. lly placed tube that goes directly into the stomach for feedings and/or
- I & D—Incision and Drainage.
- I & O—Intake and Output. A measurement of fluids taken in and urinated out
- ICU—Intensive Care Unit.
- IM—Intramuscular or into the muscle.
- IV—Intravenous. The delivery of fluids and/or medication into the blood stream via neddle.
- KVO— Keep Vein Open.
- LOC—Loss of Consciousness.
- LP—Lumbar Puncture.
- MEq—Milli Equivalent.
- MRI—Magnetic Resonance Imaging. Computerized images based on nuclear magnetic resonance of atoms within the body induced by the application of radio waves. An MRI scan provides 3-D images of the body’s interior, delineating muscle, bone, blood vessels, nerves, organs and tumor tissue.
- MRSA—Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcum Aureus.
- MVA—Motor Vehicle Accident.
- MVR—Mitral Valve Replacement.
- N/a—Not Applicable.
- N/S—Normal Saline.
- Nasogastric—a tube that leads from the nose or mouth into the stomach.
- NKA—No Known Allergies.
- No. or #—Number.
- NP—Nurse Practitioner.
- NPO—Nothing by Mouth; nothing
- NSR—Normal Sinus Rhythm.
- N&V—Nausea and Vomiting.
- NWB—Non-Weight Bearing.
- OB—Obstetrical. to eat or drink usually within a defined time frame
- OB/GYN—Obstetrics and Gynecology.
- ODA—Operating Day Admission. The patient scheduled.
- OOB—Out of Bed.
- OR—Operating Room.
- OT—Occupational Therapy.
- PA—Physician’s Assistant.
- PAC—Premature Atrial Contraction. is admitted to the hospital the day the surgery is
- PAT—Paroxysmal Atrial Tachycardia or pre-admission testing (depending on context).
- pc—After Meals
- PDA—Patent Ductus Arteriosis.
- PE—Physical Examination.
- per os—By Mouth.
- PERL—Pupils Equal and Reactive to
- PERLA—Pupils Equal and Ractivet light. & accommodation.
- PET Scan—Positron Emission Tomography
- PFT—Pulmonary Function Test.
- pH—Symbol for expression of concentration of hydrogen ions (degree of acidity).
- PICC Line—(Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter) for delivery of medication into the bloodstream.
- PIC-U—Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. A unit staffed by Pediatric Intensivists (pediatricians with special training in the care of critically ill infants and children) and other highly-skilled specialists.
- PIMU—Pediatric Intermediate or “step down” unit. A unit that admits less critically ill children and is also a transitional unit following a stay in the PICU.
- PM or p.m.—Afternoon (post meridian).
- PMS—Premenstrual Syndrome.
- po—per os (by mouth).
- PRN—when necessary; on request or when needed within time guidelines
- PROM—Passive Range of Motion.
- PT—Physical Therapy.
- Pt or pt.—Patient.
- PTA—Prior to Admission.
- PVC—Premature Ventricular Contraction.
- PWB—Partial Weight Bearing.
- QNS—Quantity Not Sufficient.
- qod—Every Other Day (quater otra die).
- qs—Sufficient Quantity (quantum sufficiat).
- q2h, q3h, etc—every two hours, every three hours, etc.
- RBC—Red Blood Cells.
- RN— Registered Nurse.
- R/O—Rule Out.
- ROM—Range of Motion.
- R/R—Respiratory Rate.
- RR—Recovery Room.
- RT—Radiation Therapy.
- RTC—Return to Clinic.
- Rx—Prescription, Treatment, or Therapy.
- s [needs line over s]—without (sine).
- SG—Specific Gravity.
- SNF—Skilled Nursing Facility.
- SOB—Shortness of Breath.
- S/P—Status Post.
- sp gr—Specific Gravity.
- staph—Staphylococcal, Staphylococcus.
- Stat—Immediately (statim).
- STD—Sexually Transmitted Disease.
- T&A—Tonsillectomy and Adenoidectomy.
- TIA—Transient Ischemia Attacks.
- Tid—Three Times a Day (sometimes q8h or every 8 hours).
- TLC—Total Lung Capacity.
- TPR—Temperature, Pulse, Respirations.
- UGI—Upper Gastrointestinal
- URI—Upper Respiratory Infection.
- UTI— Urinary Tract Infection.
- vs—Against or Versus.
- VS—Vital Signs.
- VSD—Ventricular Septal Defect. A congenital defect in the septum of the heart.
- WB—Weight Bearing.
- WBC—White Blood Cells.
- W/C—Wheel Chair.
- WNL—Within Normal Limb
- x-match—Cross Match.
- yo—Year Old.
Click here for Medical Terminology Also referred to as CBC (complete blood count). 5 cc = 1 teaspoon 15 cc = 1 tablespoon (or 1/2 fluid ounce) A 5 kg baby weighs 11 pounds (2.2 x 5) A 45 cm baby measures 18 inches (45 cm divided by 2.5 = 18 inches) 37 degrees C = 98.6 degrees F. Multiply the centigrade (C) degrees by 1.8 and add 32 to convert to Fahrenheit (F). If your temperature is 38.2 C, it is 100.8 F (38.2 C x 1.8 + 32 = 100.8 F).
Also referred to as CBC (complete blood count).
5 cc = 1 teaspoon
15 cc = 1 tablespoon (or 1/2 fluid ounce)
A 5 kg baby weighs 11 pounds (2.2 x 5)
A 45 cm baby measures 18 inches (45 cm divided by 2.5 = 18 inches)
37 degrees C = 98.6 degrees F.
Multiply the centigrade (C) degrees by 1.8 and add 32 to convert to Fahrenheit (F).
If your temperature is 38.2 C, it is 100.8 F (38.2 C x 1.8 + 32 = 100.8 F).