I’ve heard that one of the most useful parts of my book, Dictionary of Veterinary Terms: Vet-Speak Deciphered for the Non-Veterinarian, is the "commonly used acronyms" appendix. One of the best medical acronyms I’ve ever run across is "FLK."  Anybody out there know what that one means? Here’s a hint: think pediatrician rather than veterinarian.

 

People often accuse doctors of using jargon solely to confuse or obfuscate (the latter probably does apply to the FLK example. I know how I’d feel if I saw it written out on my daughter’s chart!). In all honesty, however, acronyms are usually just a quick and simple way to refer to something with a very long or confusing name, or to shorten a phrase that needs to be written down over and over again.

 

Here is a sample of some of the acronyms that I use in practice on an almost daily basis:

 

AD: right ear

 

ADR: ain’t doing right

 

AS: left ear

 

AU: both ears

 

BAR: bright, alert and responsive

 

BCS: body condition score

 

BID: twice daily, every 12 hours

 

BPM: beats or breaths per minute

 

CBC: complete blood count

 

CHF: congestive heart failure

 

CNS: central nervous system

 

CRT: capillary refill time

 

D/C: discontinue

 

Dx: diagnosis

 

EENT: eyes, ears, nose and throat

 

EOD: every other day

 

F/S: spayed female

 

FNA: fine needle aspirate

 

FUO: fever of unknown origin

 

Fx: fracture

 

HBC: hit by car

 

HCT: hematocrit

 

HR: heart rate

 

Hx: history

 

IM: intramuscular

 

IN: intranasal

 

IV: intravenous

 

M/N: neutered male

 

NDR: not doing right

 

NPO: nothing by mouth

 

NSF: no significant findings

 

OD: right eye

 

OS: left eye

 

OU: both eyes

 

PCV: packed cell volume

 

PE: physical exam

 

PO: by mouth

 

PRN: as needed

 

PU/PD: polyuria/polydipsia (i.e., drinking and urinating more than normal)

 

q: every (e.g., q4hrs means every 4 hours)

 

QAR: quiet, alert and responsive

 

QD: once daily, every 24 hours

 

QID: four times daily, every 6 hours

 

QOD: every other day

 

ROM: range of motion

 

RR: respiratory rate

 

Rx: prescription

 

S/R: suture removal

 

SC: under the skin

 

SID: once daily, every 24 hours

 

SOAP: subjective, objective, assessment, plan — a method of organizing medical records

 

SQ: under the skin

 

STAT: immediately

 

Sx: surgery

 

TID: three times daily, every 8 hours

 

TPR: temperature, pulse and respiration rates

 

Tx: treatment

 

UA: urinalysis

 

URI: upper respiratory infection

 

UTI: urinary tract infection

 

WNL: within normal limits

 

 

Dr. Jennifer Coates

 

Image:Natalia Sinjushina & Evgeniy Meyke / via Shutterstock