Jennifer Coates, DVM
Published: January 30, 2012

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

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