Medical Abbreviations List

The healthcare field is full of technical terminology, including a number of medical abbreviations that are used to complete patient charts, write prescriptions, communicate general needs and bill for services. Being able to access a medical abbreviation list can help you take control of your healthcare needs.

Medical Abbreviations List Medical Abbreviations List
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List of Common Abbreviations in Medicine

The following medical abbreviations list has been organized into a number of basic categories.

General Terms

These general medical terms are oftentimes abbreviated for ease of communication.

  • AA - amino acid
  • ABG - arterial blood gas
  • ADM - admission, admitted
  • ALS - advanced life support
  • AMA - against medical advice (or American Medical Association)
  • ASAP - as soon as possible
  • A&W - alive and well
  • C - centigrade, celsius
  • CC - cubic centimeter, chief complaint, critical care
  • C/O - complains of, care of
  • CO2 - carbon dioxide
  • D/C - discontinue or discharge
  • DNR - do not resuscitate
  • DO - disorder
  • DOA - dead on arrival or date of admission
  • DOB - date of birth
  • DOT - directly observed therapy
  • DSM - Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • EDC - estimated date of confinement
  • EDD - estimated delivery date
  • EGA - estimated gestational age
  • ER - emergency room
  • F - fahrenheit
  • H&P - history and physical examination
  • HPI - history of present illness
  • H/O - history of
  • HR - heart rate or hour
  • HS - hour of sleep (bedtime)
  • ICU - intensive care unit
  • ID - infectious diseases
  • IP - inpatient
  • IQ - intelligence quotient
  • IU - international units
  • MCO - managed care organization
  • MG - milligram
  • MVA - motor vehicle accident
  • ML - milliliter
  • NKDA - no known drug allergies
  • NTG - nitroglycerin
  • O2 - oxygen
  • OPD - outpatient department
  • P - pulse
  • Post-op - postoperative (after surgery)
  • Pre-op - preoperative (before surgery)
  • PA or PT - patient
  • PCP - primary care physician
  • PPE - personal protection equipment
  • RBC - red blood cell
  • RF - risk factor
  • S - without (sans)
  • SX - symptoms
  • S/S - signs and symptoms
  • STAT - immediately
  • T - temperature
  • TPR - temperature, pulse, respiration
  • USOH - usual state of health
  • VS - vital signs
  • VSS - vital signs stable
  • WB - whole blood
  • WBC - white blood cell
  • WNL - within normal limits

Prescription

These abbreviations are used in the context of prescription drugs.

  • ABX - antibiotics
  • AC - before meals
  • Ad lib - at will, as desired
  • BID - bis in dies (twice a day)
  • CAP - capsule
  • GTT - drop-liquid measurement
  • i - 1
  • ii - 2
  • iii - 3
  • iv - 4
  • v - 5
  • MDD - maximum daily dose
  • NPO - nothing by mouth
  • OCP - oral contraceptive pill
  • OPV - oral polio vaccine
  • OTC - over the counter
  • PC - after meals
  • PCN - penicillin
  • PNV - prenatal vitamins
  • PO - per os (by mouth)
  • PRN - as needed
  • q2h - every 2 hours
  • q3h - every 3 hours
  • qam - every morning
  • qd - once a day
  • qh - once every hour
  • qhs - at bedtime
  • qid - four times a day
  • qod - every other day
  • qpm - every evening
  • RDI - recommended daily intake
  • Rx - prescription, treatment
  • SC/SQ - subcutaneous
  • TAB - tablet
  • TIW - three times a week

Care

When it comes to medical care, a variety of medical abbreviations are also commonly used.

  • AXR - abdominal x-ray
  • BAC - blood alcohol content
  • BC - birth control
  • BE - barium enema
  • BMT - bone marrow transplant
  • Bx - biopsy
  • BRP - bathroom privileges
  • CPR - cardiopulmonary resuscitation
  • CXR - chest x-ray
  • ECC - emergency cardiac care
  • ECG or EKG - electrocardiogram
  • ECMO - extracorporeal membrane oxygenation
  • ECT - electroconvulsive therapy
  • ECV - external cephalic version
  • FB - foreign body
  • FNA - fine needle aspiration
  • FOBT - fecal occult blood testing
  • GLT - glucose loading test
  • GTT - glucose tolerance test
  • H20 - water
  • I&D - incision and drainage
  • IM - intramuscular
  • I&O - intake and output
  • IV - intravenous
  • IUPC - intrauterine pressure catheter
  • In vitro - in the laboratory
  • In vivo - in the body
  • KUB - kidney, ureter, bladder (x-ray)
  • OGTT - oral glucose tolerance test
  • PAP - pulmonary artery pressure; Papanicolaou test
  • PEEP - positive end expiratory pressure
  • PT - physical therapy
  • T&C - type and cross (blood)
  • TPA - tissue plasminogen activator (dissolve clots), total parenteral alimentation (intravenous nutritional needs)
  • UA - urinalysis
  • US - ultrasound
  • XRT - external radiation therapy
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Diagnosis or Condition

When describing the condition of a patient or assigning a diagnosis, medical staff may use some of these abbreviations.

  • ADHD - attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • AF - acid-fast
  • AIDS - acquired immune deficiency syndrome
  • ALS - amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease)
  • A&O - alert and oriented
  • AOB - alcohol on breath
  • ARDS - adult respiratory distress syndrome
  • ARF - acute renal failure, acute rheumatic fever
  • BAD - bipolar affective disorder
  • BM - bowel movement
  • BP - blood pressure
  • CA - cancer
  • CAB - carotid artery bruit
  • CABG - coronary artery bypass graft
  • CAD - coronary artery disease
  • CBC - complete blood count
  • CF - cystic fibrosis
  • C/F - chills, fever
  • CFT - complement fixation testing
  • CHD - congenital heart disease
  • CHF - congestive heart failure
  • COLD - chronic obstructive lung disease
  • COPD - chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • CP - chest pain
  • CP - cerebral palsy
  • C/S - cesarean section
  • CV - cardiovascular
  • CVA - cerebral vascular accident (stroke)
  • DTR - deep tendon reflex
  • DVT - deep venous thrombosis
  • Dx - diagnosis
  • EBL - estimated blood loss
  • EBV - Epstein-Barr virus
  • EC - eye contact
  • ECASA - enteric coated acetylsalicylic acid
  • EGC - early gastric cancer
  • FAS - fetal alcohol syndrome
  • FB - foreign body
  • F/C - fever, chills
  • FEF - forced expiratory flow
  • FHR - fetal heart rate
  • FM - fetal movement
  • FRC - functional residual capacity
  • FSE - fetal scalp electrode
  • FSH - follicle stimulating hormone
  • FT - full term
  • FX - fracture
  • GA - gestational age
  • GH - growth hormone
  • GHRH - growth hormone releasing hormone
  • GI - gastrointestinal
  • GLT - glucose loading test
  • GSW - gunshot wound
  • GTT - glucose tolerance test
  • GU - genitourinary
  • HA - headache
  • HA - hemolytic anemia
  • HAV - hepatitis A virus
  • HBV - hepatitis B virus
  • Hb - hemoglobin
  • HCV - hepatitis C virus
  • HDL - high density lipoprotein
  • HDV - hepatitis D virus
  • HIV - human immunodeficiency virus
  • HPA - hypothalamic suppression test
  • HR - heart rate
  • HTN - hypertension
  • IBD - inflammatory bowel disease
  • IBS - inflammatory bowel syndrome
  • ICP - intracranial pressure
  • IDDM - insulin dependent diabetes mellitus
  • IPF - idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis
  • IUI - intrauterine insemination
  • IUP - intrauterine pregnancy
  • IVF - in vitro fertilization
  • IVIG - intravenous immune globulin
  • IVP - intravenous push
  • JCV - JC virus
  • JRA - juvenile rheumatoid arthritis
  • JVD - jugular venous distension
  • KS - Kaposi sarcoma
  • LAD - leukocyte adhesion deficiency
  • LBP - lower back pain
  • LBW - low birth weight
  • LIH - left inguinal hernia
  • LOF - loss of fluid
  • MD - muscular dystrophy
  • MR - mental retardation
  • MS - multiple sclerosis
  • NAD - no acute distress
  • Nat/O - birth
  • NIDDM - non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus
  • NM - neuromuscular
  • N/V - nausea vomiting
  • NVD - normal vaginal delivery
  • OCD - obsessive compulsive disorder
  • ON - optic neuritis
  • OSA - obstructive sleep apnea
  • PD - Parkinson's disease
  • PE - pulmonary embolism
  • PKD - polycystic kidney disease
  • PID - pelvic inflammatory disease
  • PIH - pregnancy induced hypertension
  • PMS - premenstrual syndrome
  • PTSD - post-traumatic stress disorder
  • RA - rheumatoid arthritis
  • RAD - reactive airway disease
  • RDS - respiratory distress syndrome
  • REM - rapid eye movements
  • RHD - rheumatic heart disease
  • RXN - reaction
  • SAB - spontaneous abortion
  • SBO - small bowel obstruction
  • SBS - shaken baby syndrome
  • SOB - shortness of breath
  • STD - sexually transmitted disease
  • TAH - total abdominal hysterectomy
  • TB - tuberculosis
  • TBI - traumatic brain injury
  • TGA - transient global amnesia
  • UC - ulcerative colitis
  • UO - urine output
  • URI - upper respiratory infection
  • UTI - urinary tract infection
  • VB - vaginal bleeding
  • VBAC - vaginal birth after caesarean section
  • VF - ventricular fibrillation
  • VH - vaginal hysterectomy, hallucination
  • VIP - voluntary interruption of pregnancy
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Body Description

Medical professionals may refer to different parts of the body using abbreviations too.

  • ABD - abdomen
  • AD - right ear
  • AL - left ear
  • AU - both ears
  • BMD - bone mass density
  • BMI - body mass index
  • BMR - basal metabolic rate
  • CBD - common bile duct
  • CBF - cerebral blood flow
  • FL - femur length
  • FROM - free range of motion
  • HC - head circumference
  • IBW - ideal body weight
  • LLL - left lower lobe
  • LLQ - left lower quadrant
  • LUL - left upper lobe
  • LUQ - left upper quadrant
  • LV - left ventricle
  • OD - right eye
  • OS - left eye
  • OU - both eyes
  • PNS - peripheral nervous system
  • RA - right atrium
  • RUL - right upper lobe
  • RUQ - right upper quadrant
  • RV - right ventricle, residual volume
  • TLC - total lung capacity
  • UE - upper extremity
  • WT - weight

Check Your Abbreviations

It's always advisable to consult with your doctor, nurse, pharmacist, or other medical professional about any and all medical terminology that's confusing or unclear. Only those within the medical field can truly decipher the multitude of abbreviations in the industry. If all this jargon has stirred up your interest, then you'll definitely enjoy this article on Medical Suffix Meanings.