Article Series

67 Medical Abbreviations and Acronyms Every Caregiver Should Know

Article submitted by Rebecca Sharp Colmer: Eldercare Advocate, Author, Publisher, Speaker. Find Rebecca’s books online.
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It is important to always document the care given to your loved-one (patient). Family caregiving and home health care is no different than any other healthcare setting in terms of documentation. Keeping good medical and health records can serve as a communication tool, legal document, support for billing, and most importantly, a source for reference during care plan and care team management.

It is important to document the facts and be accurate. It is also helpful to use the common medical terms used by doctors and pharmacists. How well both you (caregiver) and the care-receiver, and the doctor talk to each other is one of the most important parts of getting good healthcare.

Here’s a list of some of the most common medical abbreviations and acronyms that can help you take control of the care-receiver’s healthcare needs:

  • Ac: before meals
  • ad lib: at will, as desired
  • adm: admission, admitted
  • ASAP: as soon as possible
  • Bid: twice a day
  • Bm: bowel movement
  • BP: blood pressure
  • BRP: bathroom privileges
  • C: Centigrade, Celsius
  • Cap: capsule
  • CC: chief complaint
  • cc: cubic centimeter
  • c/o: complains of
  • C02: carbon dioxide
  • CPR: cardiopulmonary resuscitation
  • CXR: chest x-ray
  • d/c: discontinue or discharge
  • ECG or EKG: electrocardiogram
  • EBL: estimated blood loss
  • ER: emergency room
  • F: Fahrenheit
  • Fb: foreign body
  • fx: fracture
  • gtt: drop-liquid measurement
  • H & P: history and physical
  • HR: heart rate
  • hr: hour
  • hs: hour of sleep (bedtime)
  • H20: water
  • i: 1
  • ii: 2
  • iii: 3
  • iv: 4
  • v: 5
  • I & O: intake and output
  • IDDM: insulin dependent diabetes mellitus
  • IV: intravenous
  • IM: intramuscular
  • Mg: milligram
  • Ml: milliliter
  • MVA: motor vehicle accident
  • NPO: nothing by mouth
  • NTG: nitroglycerin
  • O2: oxygen
  • OD: right eye
  • OS: left eye
  • OU: both eyes
  • post-op: postoperative (after surgery)
  • pre-op: preoperative (before surgery)
  • po: by mouth
  • pt: patient
  • prn: as needed
  • pc: after meals
  • qd: every day
  • qh: every hour
  • qid: four times a day
  • qod: every other day
  • Rx: prescription, treatment
  • sc/sq: subcutaneous
  • s: without
  • sx: symptoms
  • s/s: signs and symptoms
  • stat: immediately
  • SOB: short of breath
  • tab: tablet
  • TPR: temperature, pulse, respiration
  • vs: vital signs