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