Top 80 Medical Abbreviations & Short Hand

by | Jan 28, 2014 | Nursing School and NCLEX® | 0 comments

Medical abbreviations come in handy!

Here are the ones I use most frequently.  Keep in mind that not all of these are “approved abbreviations”; they are the ones I use on my report sheet.  I don’t use all of these in my official documentation (nurse’s notes, orders, care plans), but I do use some of them.  These are mainly so I can quickly get reports or write down orders on the phone.  The quicker you can write, the better!

Top 80 Medical Abbreviations/Short Hand

Medical Abbreviations

1.  BID = twice a day

2.  TID = three times a day

3.  Q2hrs = every 2 hours (you can put any number in there.. q4hrs, q8hrs, etc. or any time increment q15min, q30min, etc.)

4.  PO = orally

5.  PRN = as needed

6.  IV = intravenous

7.  IM = intramuscular

8.  PR = rectally

9.  gtt = drip (if someone is on an insulin drip at 4 units/hour I write insulin gtt 4/hr on my report sheet)

10. HTN = hypertension

11. A&Ox3 = alert and oriented to name, location, time

12. NS = normal saline (when someone tells me the patient has normal saline going at 75 ml/hr, I write NS @ 75/hr)

13. 0.9% = also normal saline (0.9% normal saline)

14. ml’s = milliliters

15. SAH = subarachnoid hemorrhage

16. SDH = subdural hematoma

17. IVH = intraventricular hemorrhage

18. ICH = intracerebral hemorrhage

19. AVR = aortic valve replacement

20. MVR = mitral valve replacement

21. CABG = coronary artery bypass graft

22. Fem-pop = femoral popliteal bypass (there are multiple combos of this one)

23. PMH = past medical history

24. Hx = history

25. Tx = treatment

26. Dx = diagnosis

27. FOS = full of sh*t  (constipated)

28. DM = type II diabetes

29. AC/HS = before meals and at bedtime (when someone needs their blood sugar checked before meals and at bedtime)

30. IVF = intravenous fluids

31.  K or KCl= potassium (so if someone has 40 mEq potassium chloride in their 0.9% normal saline infusing at 100 ml/hr, I write NS 40 KCl @ 100/hr on my report sheet)

32. Na = sodium

33. NSR = normal sinus rhythm

34. BBB = bundle branch block

35. Brady = bradycardia

36. Tachy = tachycardia

37. SBP = systolic blood pressure

38. DBP = diastolic blood pressure

39. PICC = peripherally inserted central catheter

40. CVC = central venous catheter

41. AC = antecubital space on their arm

42. #22, #20, #18 = gauge of needle for an IV (so if they have a size 18 needle in their right antecubital space on their arm, I write #18 ® AC on my report sheet)

43. FA = forearm (#18 ® FA)

44. NC = nasal cannula

45. RA = room air

46. Trach = tracheostomy

47. NRB = non re-breather

48. NPO = nothing by mouth (the doctor doesn’t want the patient to eat or drink anything until otherwise ordered)

49. ADA diet = diabetic diet

50. DHT = dobhoff tube (small feeding tube that does down their nose)

51. NG tube = nasogastric tube (large tube that goes down the nose that can be used for feedings or suctioning out stuff)

52. TF = tube feeding

53. BSC = bedside commode

54. Coags = PT/PTT/INR labs that check a patient’s coagulation

55. H/H = hemoglobin and hematocrit labs

56. SCD’s = sequential compression devices

57. HOH = hard of hearing

58. UA = urinalysis

59. IVPB = IV piggy back

60. IV push = when you push something directly into someone’s IV from a syringe

61. Flashback or flash = when you’re starting an IV or getting blood samples and you see blood coming back into the chamber, which let’s you know you’re in the vein

62.  Primary line = your primary IV line (typically a gtt or IVF, which is going from the IV pump, directly into the patient’s IV

63.  Secondary line = the secondary IV line, which is attached to the primary line above the pump (typically antibiotics are given through a secondary line)

64. KVO = keep vein open, meaning that the IV fluid is going at a slow rate just to keep a constant flow of fluids in

65. Med line = a bag of normal saline that’s at a KVO rate (usually 20 ml/hr or 30 ml/hr) as a primary line that you can use to administer antibiotics via your secondary line

66. PCA = patient controlled analgesic pump AKA pain pump (pump with a pain med in it that the patient can put a button to get a dose)

67. WDL = within defined limits (I use this to say something is normal, so if there are neurologically intact, I’ll write neuro WDL in the neuro section of my report sheet)

68. ETOH = alcohol

69. pt = patient

70. PT = physical therapy

71. OT = occupational therapy

72. ST = speech therapy

73. Vented/vents = patient is on a ventilator (the machine that breathes for them)

74. On contact precautions/isolation = you have to wear a gown and gloves every time you touch the patient

75. MRSA = methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (they’re on contact precautions)

76. VRE = vancomycin-resistant enterococcus (also on contact precautions)

77. C.diff = Clostridim difficile (contact enteric precautions, meaning you have to wash with soap and water before and after touching the patient, not just the hand sanitizer)

78. NKDA = no known drug allergies

79. BKA = below knee amputation

80. AKA = above knee amputation

Which medical abbreviations do you use the most?

Getting ready for nursing school clinicals, but feeling unprepared?

Skills Refresh 3 1

Nursing Skills Refresh from FreshRN is a self-paced video course for both new and experienced nurses. Whether you’re preparing for your first clinical experience, or need to brush up on your nursing skills, this course is for you. Each lesson walks you through the basic tasks and concepts you will experience in the clinical setting. Once completed, you’ll feel comfortable in a hospital setting, understand the basics of what the bedside experience will feel like, and know insider tips and tricks that will make you feel confident and in control.

Picture of Kati Kleber, founder of FRESHRN

Hi, I’m Kati.

Kati Kleber, MSN RN is a nurse educator, author, national speaker, host of the FreshRN® Podcast, and owner of FreshRN® – an online platform created to educate, encourage, and motivate newly licensed nurses in innovative ways.

Connect with her on YouTube, Pinterest, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook, and sign-up for her free email newsletter for new nurses.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.