Student Paramedic Skills (Medical Abbreviations)

Abbreviations have a long tradition in medicine and used correctly can assist in the rapid communication of information about a patient. However, since some abbreviations can have multiple meanings, or are only used regularly within one speciality, using them can represent a hazard to the patient if the abbreviation is misinterpreted. Whilst writing information in full will always be preferred as the best way to avoid ambiguity, it is accepted that they are commonly used in medical communications. As a means of promoting the accurate transfer of information between professionals and striking a practical balance, this document acts as a list of approved abbreviations which can be used in interagency communications. These abbreviations are used by a variety of specialities including hospital and pre-hospital clinicians. Further down the page we have listed specific abbreviations used by Midwifery and Cardiology specialities, though you may find some of these listed in the main list also.

/7 - Days
/52 - Weeks
/40 - Weeks Gestation
/12 - Months
+ / ++ / +++ - Present or Noted / Present Significantly / Present in Excess
= - Equivalent to

AAA - Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
ABG - Arterial Blood Gas also "Sats"
ACEI - Angiotensin Converting Enzyme (ACE) Inhibitor
ACL - Anterior Cruciate Ligament
A/E - Air Entry to Lungs
A&E - Accident and Emergency
AF - Atrial Fibrillation
AMI - Acute Myocardial Infarction
ARB - Angiotensin Receptor Blocker
ARP - Ambulance Radio Project/Programme
ASD - Atrial Septal Defect
ASW - Approved Social Worker Context
AXR - Abdominal X-Ray

BBA - Born before arrival
BCC - Basal Cell Carcinoma
bd/bid - Twice a Day
BiPAP - Bi-Phasic Positive Airways Pressure
BM - Bohringer Mannheim, early manufacturer of blood glucose testing strips. BM is generically used describe peripheral blood glucose measurement.
BMI - Body Mass Index
BNO - Bowels Not Opened
BO - Bowels Open
BP - Blood Pressure (DBP - Diastolic Blood Pressure SBP - Systolic Blood Pressure)
BRC - British Red Cross

CABG/S or CAG/S - Coronary Artery (Bypass) Graft/Surgery
CAD - Coronary Artery Disease
CAMHS - Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service
CBRN - Chemical Biological Radiation Nuclear
CCB - Calcium Channel Blocker
CCF - Congestive Cardiac Failure
CCN - Community Children's Nurse
CDH - Congenital Dysplasia of Hips
CFS - Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
CHD - Coronary Heart Disease
CMHT - Community Mental Health Trust
CNS - Central Nervous System
C/o - Complains of
COCP - Combined Oral Contraceptive
COPD - Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
CPAP - Continuous Positive Airways Pressure
CPN - Community Psychiatric Nurse
CPP - Coronary Perfusion Pressure Context
Cr - Creatinine
CSU - Catheter specimen of urine
CT - Computerised Axial Tomography
CTG - Cardiotocograph
CVA - Cerebrovascular Accident
CVD - Cardiovascular Disease
CVS - Cardiovascular System
CX or Cx - Cervix
CXR - Chest X-ray

D&V - Diarrhoea and Vomiting
D/H - Drug History
DIP, PIP - Dorsal/proximal interphalangeal joints
DLE - Discoid Lupus Erythematosus
DNA - Did Not Attend  
dDx - differential diagnosis (list of possible causes for a problem)
DIB - Difficulty in Breathing
DKA - Diabetic Ketoacidosis
DM - Diabetes Mellitus
DMA - Double Manned Ambulance. A traditional ambulanc
DNAR - Do Not Attempt Resuscitation
DNR - Do Not Resuscitate
DNT - Did Not Travel
DOA - Dead on Arrival
DVT - Deep Vein Thrombosis
Dx - Diagnosis
DXT - Deep X-ray Treatment 

ECG - ElectroCardioGraph
ECMO - Extra Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation
ECT - Electro Convulsive Therapy
EEG - ElectroEncephaloGram
ENT - Ear, Nose & Throat
EPAU - Early Pregnancy Assessment Unit
ESR - Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate
ETT - Endotracheal Tube

FRU - Fast Response Unit
FRV - Fast Response Vehicle

GCS - Glasgow Coma Scale
GTN - Glyceryl Trinitrate

HART - Hazardous Area Response Team
Hx - History

IABP - Intra-Aortic Balloon Pump
ICD - Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator
IDDM - Insulin Dependant Diabetes Mellitus
IHD - Ischaemic Heart Disease
IMP - Impression
Intrinsic PEEP - PEEP created by upper airway structure

LiPo - Lithium Polymer (rechargeable battery chemistry)
LMA - Laryngeal Mask Airway
LPM - Litres Per Minute
LOC - Loss Of Consciousness Context
LOC - Level Of Consciousness Context
LUCAS - Lund Cardiac Arrest System
LVAD - Left Ventricular Aid Device
LVF - Left Ventricular Failure

MDT - Mobile Data Terminal
MI - Myocardial Infarction
MV - Minute Volume (TV x resps per min)

NAD - No Abnormalities Detected
NFA - No Fixed Abode
NiCd - Nickel Cadmium (rechargeable battery chemistry)
NiMh - Nickel Metal Hydride (rechargeable battery chemistry)
NKDA - No Known Drug Allergies Context Severe risk of misunderstanding with abbreviation below
NKDA - Non-Ketotic Diabetic Acidosis Context
NIDDM - Non Insulin Dependant Diabetes Mellitus
NP - Nasopharyngeal airway
NSTEMI - Non ST-segment Elevation Myocardial Infarction

O/A - On Arrival
OE - On Examination
OP - Oropharyngeal airway Context
ORCON - Operational Research CONsultancy

PAS - Private Ambulance Service
PCA - Percutaneous Coronary Angioplasty Context
PCA - Primary Care Assistant Context
PCAS - Patient Controlled Analgesia System
PCI - Percutaneous Coronary intervention
PCR - Patient Care Record or Patient Clinical Record
PCS - Patient Care Service - Welsh name for PTS
PCT - Primary Care Trust
PE - Pulmonary Embolism
PEEP - Positive End Expiratory Pressure
PFR - Peak Flow Reading
pHx - Presenting History
POM- Perscription Only Medication
PMC - Presenting/Present Medical Complaint
PMH - Previous Medical History
PNC - Patient Not Conveyed
PPCI - Primary Percutaneous Coronary Intervention
PQRST - Context Method for pain Assessment
PQRST - Context ECG Annotation
PRF - Patient Report Form
Pt - Patient
PTS - Patient Transport Service

ROLE - Recognition Of Life Extinct
ROSC - Return of Spontaneous Circulation
RRV - Rapid Response Vehicle
RTA - Road Traffic Accident
RTC - Road Traffic Collision
RTI - Road Traffic Incident
RX - Prescription Context
RX - Red Cross Context

SAU - Surgical Admissions Unit
SH - Social History
SJA (or SJAB) - St John Ambulance (Brigade)
SLA - Sealed Lead Acid (rechargable battery chemistry)
SLE - Systemic Lupus Erythematosis
SOB - Short of Breath
STEMI - ST-segment Elevation Myocardial Infarction
SVR - Systemic Vascular Resistance

TIA - Transient Ischaemic Attack
TLA - Three Letter Abbreviation
TV - Tidal Volume
Tx - Treatment (given/planned)

UTI - Urinary Tract Infection

VAS - Voluntary Aid Society

#(bone) - fractured (bone)

?(diagnosis) - query (diagnosis)

ECG abbreviations

ASY - Asystole
ACS - Acute Coronary Syndrome
AF - Atrial Fibrillation
AT - Atrial Tachycardia
AV - Atrio-ventricular
AVNRT - Atrioventricular Nodal Re-entrant Tachycardia
AVRT - Artriventricular Re-entrant Tachycardia

BIG - Bigeminy

CABG - Coronary Artery Bypass Graft
CCP - Central Chest Pain

ECG - Electro Cardio Gram
EMD - Electromechanical dissociation (often refered to now as PEA)

ICD - Implanted Cardiovertor-defibrillator

LAD - Left Anterior Desending Artery
LAH - Left Atrial Hypertrophy
LBBB - Left Bundle Branch Block
LCA - Left Coronary Artery
LVH - Left Ventricular Hypertrophy

MI - Myocardial Infarction

PCA - Percutaneous Coronary Angioplasty
PAC - Premature Artial Contraction
PCI - Percutaneous Coronary intervention
PEA - Pulseless Electrical Activity
PVC - Premature Ventricular Contraction
POTS - Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome

RAH - Right Atrial Hyperthrophy

RBBB - Right Bundle Branch Block
RCA - Right Coronary Artery
RVH - Right Ventricular Hypertrophy

SA - Sinoatrial
SADS - Sudden Adult Death Syndrome
SB - Sinus Bradycardia
SIDS - Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
SSS - Sick Sinus Syndrome
ST - Sinus Tachycardia
SVT - Supraventricular Tachycardia
SCDS - Sudden Cardiac Death Syndrome

TRI - Trigeminy

VAT - Ventricular Activation Time
VF - Ventricular Fibrllation
VT - Ventricular Tachycardia
WPWS - Wolf-Parkinson-White Syndrome

Midwife abbreviations

ANC - Ante Natal Clinic
APH - Ante Partum Haemorrhage
ARM - Artificial Rupture of Membranes

BBA - Born Before Arrival (of midwife)

CTG - Cardiotocograph
Cx - Cervix

DIC - Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation

ECV - External Cephalic Version
EDD - Expected Date of Delivery

FAS - Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
FH - Fetal Heart

G - Gravida

HELLP - Haemolysis, Elevated Liver proteins and Low Platelets

IUD - Intrauterine Death
IUGR - Intrauterine Growth Retardation (not used much these days)

NTD - Neural Tube Defect

P - Parity
PET - 
PIH - Pregnancy Induced Hypertension (this is also used to describe pre-eclampsia)
PPH - Post Partum Haemorrhage

SB - Stillbirth (if a woman has a flower sticker on her hand held notes, this tells you she has had a SB, IUD or neonatal death)
SFD - Small For Dates
SPD - Symphysis Pubis Diastasis/Discomfort/Dysfunction 
SROM - Spontaneous Rupture Of Membranes

Hospital department abbreviations

AMU - Acute Medical Unit

CDU - Clinical Decitions Unit
CCU - Coronary Care Unit
CICU - Cardiac Intensive Care Unit

EAU - Emergency Assessment Unit Context
EAU - Emergency Admissions Unit Context
EMU - Emergency Medical Unit

HDU - High Dependancy Unit

ICU - Intensive Care Unit
ITU - Intensive Therapy Unit

MAU - Medical Admissions Unit
MTU - Medical Triage Unit
MIU - Minor Injuries Unit

NNU - Neonatal Unit

PICU - Paediatric Intensive Care Unit

SCBU - Special Care Baby Unit
SAU - Surgical Admissions Unit

WIC - Walk In Centre


Disclaimer: The information in this document has been taken from various sources and includes knowledge from registered paramedics, it does not replace formal training. The skills mentioned in this article may be taught and assessed differently as they are described here and should not be used in practice unless correct methods have been taught, assessed and the clinician or student is working within their scope of practice. The details in this article could be subject to change at any time without prior notice.  Any feedback is always welcome Contact Us