With TV (television) shows such as ER (emergency room) and CSI (crime scene investigations) all part of popular culture, this article aims to put you in the know about medical abbreviations that you or your loved ones may encounter.
First, if you have ever had your doctor (MD for medical doctor or DO for doctor of osteopathy) write a prescription, the letters BID, TID or PRN may appear in the prescription paper. These initials tell the pharmacist the frequency to write on the medication instructions. BID (initials for the Latin bis in die) refers to twice a day. TID (Latin ter in die) refers to three times a day, and PRN (pro re nata) means “as needed.”
Medical diagnostic tests can also sound mysterious. MRI stands for magnetic resonance imaging and CT Scan refers to cat scan. EEG, or electroencephalogram, measures the electrical activity of the brain. Upper or lower GI series refers to the gastrointestinal or digestive system.
Other initials you may be more familiar with are the insurance terms HMO (health maintenance organization) and PPO (preferred provider organization). Also, POS refers to point of service plans. Your PCP (primary care physician) is the doctor you choose to manage your healthcare. The physician may be assisted by an RN, or registered nurse, who may take vital signs like your pulse or HR (heart rate) and BP (blood pressure).
Other common conditions that you may recognize include CTS or carpel tunnel syndrome, which is a nerve entrapment in the wrist, causing numbness in part of the hand. TMJ, or temporal mandibular joint, refers to problems with the jaw joint, which can cause pain in the face, especially right in front of the ear. It can also affect the opening or closing of the mouth.
Some other common conditions include RA (rheumatoid arthritis), CP (cerebral palsy) and MD (muscular dystrophy). A CVA (cerebral vascular accident) refers to a stroke. A similar but less serious problem is a TIA or trans ischemic attack. This refers to a temporary interruption of blood flow to the brain, which can appear like a stroke, but the symptoms resolve. An MI, or myocardial infarction, refers to a heart attack.
A DVT (deep vein thrombosis) is a blood clot. A PE (pulmonary embolism) is a blood clot that blocks a vessel in the lungs. This may cause a person to be SOB (short of breath). COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) refers to a lung condition. CHF refers to the common condition of congestive heart failure.
So the next time you hear someone talking in the medical speak, you’ll be in the know. O.K.?