Medical Abbreviations

A handy guide to common abbreviations used by the NHS

Have you ever looked at your prescription and thought "what do all these letters mean?!"  Perhaps you've had a report from your doctor or local hospital and been baffled by medical jargon?

Here at our Aylesbury Home Care office we've recently started providing care services for an NHS and Buckinghamshire Council initiative called Discharge to Assess (D2A), and we've spent a long time Googling the terms in the referrals (SJAs)!

As big fans of plain English in our home care plans, we've put together a list of the most commonly used medical abbreviations we've seen so far.

Please feel free to bookmark it so you can come back to it qod, qd or even qds, and hopefully together we can keep that BP down!


q1h Every hour
qh Every hour
q2h Every 2 hours
q4h Every 4 hours
q6h Every 6 hours
q8h Every 8 hours
qod Every other day
q1d Every day
qd Every day
OD Once a day
BDS 2 times a day
bid 2 times a day
bd 2 times a day
tds 3 times a day
tid 3 times a day
qds 4 times a day
qid 4 times a day
PRN As needed
ud As directed
qs a sufficient quantity



a.c. Before meals
gtt drop(s)
i 1 tablet
ii 2 tablets
iii 3 tablets
IM Injection into a muscle
IV injection into a vein
IVI Intravenous infusion
IVP Intravenous pyelogram
M/R Modified release
NBM Nil by mouth
Nocte Every night
NPO not by oral administration
NSAID Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug
p.c. After food
PO Orally/by mouth
PR Rectally
S/R Sustained release
SC injection under the skin
stat. immediately, with no delay, now


Tests and Terms

BNO Bowels not open
BO Bowels open
CSU Catheter stream urine sample
CT Scan Computerised tomography
CXR Chest x-ray
Dx Diagnosis
ECG Electrocardiogram
EEG Electroencephalogram
EMU Early morning urine sample
ESR Erythrocyte sedimentation rate
EUA Examination under anaesthetic
h/o History of
Hx History
Ix Investigations
LA Local anaesthetic
LFT Liver function test
MRI Magnetic resonance imaging
MSU Mid-stream urine sample
NAD Nothing abnormal discovered
NAI Non-accidental injury
o/e On examination
p/c Presenting complaint
POP Plaster of Paris
PTT Partial thromboplastin time
PU Passed urine
ROSC Return of spontaneous circulation
Rx Treatment
TCI To come in
TFT Thyroid function test
TPN Total parenteral nutrition
TPR Temperature, pulse and respiration
TTA To take away
TTO To take out
UCC Urgent care centre


Body & Conditions

# Fracture
AF Atrial fibrillation
BMI Body mass index
BP Blood pressure
CSF Cerebrospinal fluid
CVP Central venous pressure
DVT Deep vein thrombosis
FBC Full blood count
Hb Haemoglobin
HDL High-density lipoprotein
HRT Hormone replacement therapy
LDL Low-density lipoprotein
MRSA Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus
NG Nasogastric
NoF Neck of femur
RTA Road traffic accident
STEMI ST segment elevation myocardial infarction
U&E Urea and electrolytes
UTI Urinary tract infection
VLDL Very-low density lipoprotein
VTE Venous thromboembolism


Advance Decisions to Refuse Treatment

DNACPR Do not attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation
DNAR Do not attempt resuscitation
DNR Do not resuscitate



AMHP Approved Medical Health Professional
CMHN Community Mental Health Nurse
CPN Community Psychiatric Nurse
HCA Healthcare Assistant
HCSW Healthcare Support Worker
OT Occupational Therapist
Physio Physiotherapist
RN Registered Nurse
RNLD Learning Disability Nurse
SLT Speech and Language Therapist
SpR Specialist Registrar
FY1 FY2 Foundation Doctor


Please note that all information is provided for general guidance only, and that medical staff sometimes use the same abbreviation to mean different things.  You should make any health decisions based on the specific personal advice of an appropriate medical professional.  For more information about these terms, please see here.

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