What Do some of the most common Medical Abbreviations Mean? | The Good Care Group

Medical abbreviations

Have you ever looked at your medical records or prescriptions and wondered what all those abbreviations mean?

Abbreviations are commonly used in healthcare settings to save doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals time and space whilst filling out medical records.

In this short guide, we will explain some of the most common abbreviations to help you make sense of your medical records or prescriptions.

At The Good Care Group, we recognise the importance of proper medication management for individuals receiving care and their families. The best way to feel confident that your loved one’s medication is being properly managed is through daily monitoring.

Contact our friendly team to learn how our dedicated live-in care services can improve your loved one’s quality of life through proper medication management, 24/7 support and specialist medical expertise for complex conditions.


Why are there so many medical abbreviations?

Doctors, nurses and pharmacists see a large number of patients each day. Medical abbreviations provide a short-hand way of conveying important information such as how and when a medication should be taken.

Using abbreviations can save healthcare professionals valuable space and time whilst writing patients’ medical records or prescriptions. Abbreviations also help eliminate errors due to unclear handwriting, typos or misspellings.

What do medical abbreviations on prescriptions mean?

The following abbreviations are somes of the most commonly used in the UK, and are usually in Latin. QDS for example stands for ‘quater die sumendum’ which means ‘to be taken four times a day’. Other common abbreviations that may appear on a prescription (also known as Rx) are:

OD – to be taken once a day
BD – to be taken twice a day
TDS – to be taken three times a day
Mane – morning
Nocte – night
MD – as directed


What are some common medical abbreviations?

Please note that this information is provided as guidance only. Medical staff may sometimes use the same abbreviations to mean different things. If you are ever confused about the abbreviations that appear on your medical records or prescriptions, it is best to ​​contact your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

Abbreviation Meaning
# broken bone (fracture)
A&E accident and emergency
a.c. before meals
AF atrial fibrillation
BMI body mass index
BNO bowels not open
BO bowels open
BP blood pressure
c/c chief complaint
CMHN community mental health nurse
CPN community psychiatric nurse
CSF cerebrospinal fluid
CSU catheter stream urine sample
CT scan computerised tomography scan
CVP central venous pressure
CXR chest X-ray
DNACPR do not attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation
DNAR do not attempt resuscitation
DNR do not resuscitate
DVT deep vein thrombosis
Dx diagnosis
ECG electrocardiogram
ED emergency department
EEG electroencephalogram
EMU early morning urine sample
EUA examination under anaesthetic
FBC full blood count (a type of blood test)
FY1 FY2 foundation level doctor
GA general anaesthetic
h., h hour
h/o history of
HCA healthcare assistant
HCSW healthcare support worker
HDL high-density lipoprotein (a type of cholesterol)
Ht height
Hx history
i 1one tablet
ii two2 tablets
iii three3 tablets
i.m., IM injection into a muscle
i.v., IV injection directly to a vein
IVI intravenous infusion
Ix investigations
LA local anaesthetic
LDL low-density lipoprotein (a type of cholesterol)
LMP last menstrual period
Abbreviation Meaning
MRI magnetic resonance imaging
n.p.o., npo, NPO nothing by mouth / not by oral administration
NAD nothing abnormal discovered
NAI non-accidental injury
NBM nil by mouth
NoF neck of femur
NSAID non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug
o/e on examination
OT occupational therapist
p.c. after food
PO orally / by mouth / oral administration
p.r., pr, PR rectally
p.r.n., prn, PRN as needed
p/c presenting complaint
physio physiotherapist
PU passed urine
q. every
q.s., qs a sufficient quantity (enough)
RN registered nurse
RMN registered mental health nurse
RNLD learning disability nurse
RTA road traffic accident
s.c., SC injection under the skin
S/R sustained release
stat. immediately, with no delay, now
TCI to come in
TFT thyroid function test
TPR temperature, pulse and respiration
TTO to take out (usually medication to take home)
U&E urea and electrolytes
u.d., ud as directed
UTI urinary tract infection
Wt weight

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Content authored by Dr Jane Pritchard 21 December 2022

Dr Jane Pritchard is a consultant Admiral Nurse who specialises in the care and support of those living with dementia. She is a registered nurse with the Nursing and Midwifery Council specialising in mental health. She has over 20 years' experience working in care and has authored several publications on dementia care.

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