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Medical Abbreviations


Infographic Medical Terminology EMT

Medical Terminology Abbreviations

Medical abbreviations and EMT acronyms are needed to make charting faster and more efficient in the field. They also provide an accurate and precise way to communicate with other healthcare providers about the patient. Many EMT acronyms are universal, but often they vary by region and department. This page features common medical abbreviations and EMT terminology used by EMS personnel and Healthcare workers all over.

Here are a couple of examples of medical abbreviations and their meaning.

A very common question is:

What does EMT stand for? EMT stands for Emergency Medical Technician.

Another common question is:

What does EMS stands for? EMS stands for Emergency Medical Services.

First you can find a quick medical abbreviations list to scan at the top of this page. The bottom has a list with slightly more information and is separated by alphabet.

Medical Abbreviations Infographic

Common Medical Abbreviations List

→ primary
→ secondary
Δ → change  
→ Increase 
→ Decrease
- → negative
+ → positive
= → equal
ā → before
ABC  → Airway, Breathing, Circulation
abd → abdomen
abx → antibiotics
AC → antecubital
ACLS → Advanced Cardiac Life Support

ACR → Ambulance Call Report
ADL → activities of daily living
AED → Automated External Defibrillator
AKA → above knee amputation
ALS → Advanced Life Support
aloc → altered level of consciousness
AMI → Acute Myocardial Infarction
AMS → altered mental status
AOS → arrived on scene
A&P → auscultation and percussion
ARF → Acute Renal Failure
ASA → acetyl salicylic acid (Aspirin)
ASHD → Arteriosclerotic Heart Disease 
BBB → Bundle Branch Block
BBS → bilateral breath sounds
BG → blood glucose
BKA → below knee amputation
BLS → Basic Life Support
BP → blood pressure
BSI → Body Substance Isolation
BVM → Bag Valve Mask
ĉ → with
CA → Cancer
CABG → Coronary Artery Bypass Graft
CAD → Coronary Artery Disease
CAOx3 → conscious,alert, and oriented to person, place and time
CC → chief complaint
CHF → Congestive Heart Failure
clr → clear 
CNS → Central Nervous System
c/o → complains of
CO → Cardiac Output or Carbon Monoxide
CoD → cause of death
COPD → Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
CP → Chest Pain
CPR → Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation 
CSF → cerebrospinal fluid
CSM → circulation/sensation/motor
CVA → Cerebral Vascular Accident
CXR → chest X-ray
D5W → 5% Dextrose in water
d/c → discontinue or discharge
DM → Diabetes Mellitus
DNR → Do Not Resuscitate
DOA → Dead on Arrival
DOE → dyspnea on exertion
DOS → Dead on Scene
d/t → due to
DT → Delirium Tremens
DTR → deep tendon reflexes
DVT → deep vein thrombosis
Dx → diagnosis 
ECG → Electrocardiogram
ED → Emergency Department
EJ → external jugular
EKG → Electrocardiogram
EPI → Epinephrine
EPS → Extrapyramidal Symptoms
ESRD → End-Stage Renal Disease
ET → Endotracheal Tube
ETA → Estimated Time of Arrival
ETOH → ethyl alcohol
ext → external
FBAO → foreign body airway obstruction
FHR → fetal heart rate
Fx → fracture
FROM → full range of motion
FUO → fever of unknown origin
GCS → Glasgow Coma Scale
GOA → Gone on Arrival
GSW → Gunshot Wound
H&P → History & Physical
Hg → Mercury
h/o → history of
HPI → history of present illness
HR → Heart Rate
hs → at bedtime
HTN → hypertension
Hx → history
ICF → intracellular fluid
ICP → intracranial pressure
ICS → intercostal space
IDDM → Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus
IM → intramuscular
IO → Intraosseous
IV → intravenous
IVP → intravenous push
IVPB → intravenous piggy back
JVD → jugular vein distention
K → potassium
L&D → Labor & Delivery
lat → lateral
LLL → left lower lobe
LLQ → left lower quadrant
LMP → last menstrual period
LPM → liters per minute
LOC → level of consciousness
LR → Lactated Ringer's
LS → lung sounds
LUL → left upper lobe
LUQ → left upper quadrant
LV → left ventricle
LVH → Left Ventricular Hypertrophy
MAE → moves all extremities
MAP → mean arterial pressure
MAST → military anti-shock trousers
mcg → microgram
MCI → mass casualty incident
MDI → metered dose inhaler
mEq → milliequivalent
Mg → Magnesium
mg → milligram
MI → Myocardial Infarction
mL → milliliter
mmHg → millimeters of mercury
MOI → mechanism of injury
MRI → magnetic resonance imaging
MS → Morphine Sulfate or Multiple Sclerosis
MVA → motor vehicle accident
NAD → no acute distress
NC → Nasal Cannula
Neb → Nebulizer
NG → nasogastric
NKA → No Known Allergies
NKDA → No Known Drug Allergies
NRB → non-rebreather mask
NS → normal saline
NSR → normal sinus rhythm
NT → non-tender
NTG → Nitroglycerine
NTI → nasotracheal intubation
n/v → nausea/vomiting
nvd → nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
O2 → Oxygen
O2Sat → oxygen saturation by pulse oximeter
O.D. → overdose or Right Eye
OPA → oropharyngeal airway
ORIF → Open Reduction Internal Fixation
O.S. → Left Eye
P → Pulse
PAC → Premature Atrial Contractions
PALS → Pediatric Advanced Life Support
PASG → pneumatic anti-shock garment
PCN → Penicillin
PCR → Prehospital Care Record/ Patient Care Report
PE → Pulmonary Edema or Pulmonary Embolism
PEA → Pulseless Electrical Activity
PEEP → positive end-expiratory pressure
PMH → past medical history
PNA → Pneumonia
PO → by mouth  
POV → privately owned vehicle

ppm → parts per million
prn → as needed
PSVT → paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia
Pt → patient
PTA → prior to arrival
PVC → Premature Ventricular Contraction
q → every
RDS → Respiratory Distress Syndrome
RLL → right lower lobe
RLQ → right lower quadrant
RML → right middle lobe
r/o → rule out
ROM → range of motion
ROS → review of systems
ROSC → return of spontaneous circulation
RR → respiratory rate
RUL → right upper lobe
RUQ → right upper quadrant
ŝ → without
SaO2 → systemic arterial oxygen saturation
SpO2 → oxygen saturation by pulse oximeter
SL NTG → sublingual Nitroglycerin
SNF → skilled nursing facility
SOB → shortness of breath
s/p → status post
sq, subQ → subcutaneous
SR → Sinus Rhythm
STAT → immediately
STEMI → ST elevated myocardial infarction
ST → Sinus Tachycardia
SVT → Supraventricular Tachycardia
Sx → symptom
Sz → seizure
T → Temperature
TCP → transcutaneous pacing
TIA → Transient Ischemic Attack
TKO → to keep open
Tx → treatment, transport
UTI → Urinary Tract Infection
UTL → unable to locate
V-fib → Ventricular Fibrillation
VS → vital signs
VSS → vital signs stable
V-tach → Ventricular Tachycardia
W&D → warm and dry
WNL → within normal limits
WO → wide open
y/o → years old 

 

Infographic Medical Terminology EMTA

ā medical abbreviation for before
ABC medical abbreviation for Airway, Breathing and Circulation

abd medical abbreviation for Abdomen
abx medical abbreviation for antibiotics
AC medical abbreviation for Antecubital

ADL medical abbreviation for Activities of Daily Living
AED medical abbreviation for Automated External Defibrillator
AKA medical abbreviation for Above Knee Amputation
ALS medical abbreviation for Advanced Life Support
aloc medical abbreviation for Altered level of consciousness
AMI medical abbreviation for Acute Myocardial Infarction
AMS medical abbreviation for Altered Mental Status
A&P medical abbreviation for Auscultation & Percussion
ARF medical abbreviation for Ambulance Report Form or Acute Renal Failure
ASA medical abbreviation for acetyl salicylic acid (Aspirin)
ASHD medical abbreviation for Arteriosclerotic Heart Disease

B

BBB medical abbreviation for Bundle Branch Block
BBS medical abbreviation for Bilateral Breath Sounds
BG medical abbreviation for Blood Glucose
BKA medical abbreviation for Below Knee Amputation

BLS medical abbreviation for Basic Life Support
BP medical abbreviation for Blood Pressure
BVM medical abbreviation for Bag Valve Mask

C

ĉ medical abbreviation for with
Ca medical abbreviation for Cancer
CABG medical abbreviation for Coronary Artery Bypass Graft
CAD medical abbreviation for Coronary Artery Disease

CC medical abbreviation for Chief Complaint
CHF medical abbreviation for Congestive Heart Failure
c/o medical abbreviation for complains of

CoD medical abbreviation for Cause of Death
COPD medical abbreviation for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
CNS medical abbreviation for Central Nervous System
CP medical abbreviation for Chest Pain

CPR medical abbreviation for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation
CSF medical abbreviation for Cerebrospinal Fluid
CSM medical abbreviation for Circulation / Sensation / Motor
CVA medical abbreviation for Cerebral Vascular Accident
CXR medical abbreviation for Chest X-ray

D

D5W medical abbreviation for 5% dextrose in water
d/c medical abbreviation for Discontinue or Discharge
DM medical abbreviation for Diabetes Mellitus
DNR medical abbreviation for Do Not Resuscitate
DOE medical abbreviation for Dyspnea on Exertion

d/t medical abbreviation for due to
DTR medical abbreviation for Deep Tendon Reflex
DVT medical abbreviation for Deep Vein Thrombosis
Dx medical abbreviation for Diagnosis

E

ED medical abbreviation for Emergency Department
ECG medical abbreviation for Electrocardiogram
EKG medical abbreviation for Electrocardiogram
EPI medical abbreviation for Epinephrine
EPS medical abbreviation for Extrapyramidal Symptoms
ESRD medical abbreviation for End-Stage Renal Disease
ET medical abbreviation for Endotracheal Tube
ETA medical abbreviation for estimated time of arrival

ETOH medical abbreviation for ethyl alcohol (meaning patient is drunk)
ext medical abbreviation for External

F

FBAO medical abbreviation for Foreign Body Airway Obstruction
FHR medical abbreviation for fetal heart rate
Fx medical abbreviation for Fracture
FROM medical abbreviation for Full Range of Motion
FUO medical abbreviation for fever of unknown origin

G

GCS medical abbreviation for Glasgow Coma Scale
GSW medical abbreviation for Gunshot Wound

H

H&P medical abbreviation for History and Physical Examination
Hg medical abbreviation for Mercury (mm HG millimeters mercury)Infographic Medical Abbreviations
h/o medical abbreviation for history of

HPI medical abbreviation for History of Present Illness
HR medical abbreviation for heart rate
hs medical abbreviation for at bedtime
HTN medical abbreviation for Hypertension

Hx medical abbreviation for History

I

ICF medical abbreviation for intracellular fluid
ICP medical abbreviation for Intracranial Pressure

IDDM medical abbreviation for Insulin-dependent Diabetes Mellitus
IM medical abbreviation for Intramuscular
ICS medical abbreviation for intercostal space
IV medical abbreviation for Intravenous
IVP medical abbreviation for intravenous push
IVPB medical abbreviation for intravenous piggy back

J-K

JVD medical abbreviation for Jugular Vein Distention
K medical abbreviation for Potassium

L

L&D medical abbreviation for labor and delivery
Lat medical abbreviation for Lateral
LLL medical abbreviation for lower lobe of lung
LLQ medical abbreviation for Left Lower Quadrant
LMP medical abbreviation for Last Menstrual Period

LPM medical abbreviation for Liters Per Minute
LOC medical abbreviation for Level of Conscious
LR medical abbreviation for Lactated Ringers
LS medical abbreviation for Lung Sounds
LUQ medical abbreviation for Left Upper Quadrant

LV medical abbreviation for Left Ventricle
LVH medical abbreviation for Left Ventricular Hypertrophy

M

MAE medical abbreviation for moves all extremities
MAP medical abbreviation for Mean Arterial Pressure
mcg medical abbreviation for microgram
MCI medical abbreviation for mass casualty incident
MDI medical abbreviation for Metered Dose Inhaler
mEq medical abbreviation for millequilvalent
MI medical abbreviation for Myocardial Infarction
mmHg medical abbreviation for millimeters of mercury (BP Measurement)  
MOI medical abbreviation for Mechanism of Injury
MRI medical abbreviation for Magnetic Resonance Imaging
MS medical abbreviation for Morphine Sulfate/ Multiple Sclerosis
MVA medical abbreviation for Motor Vehicle Accident

N

NAD medical abbreviation for No Acute Distress
NC medical abbreviation for Nasal Cannula
NG medical abbreviation for Nasogastric

NKA medical abbreviation for No Known Allergies
NKDA medical abbreviation for No Known Drug Allergies
NRB medical abbreviation for non-rebreather mask
NS medical abbreviation for Normal Saline
NSR medical abbreviation for Normal Sinus Rhythm
NT medical abbreviation for non-tender
NTG medical abbreviation for Nitroglycerine
NTI medical abbreviation for nasotracheal intubation
n/v medical abbreviation for Nausea / Vomiting
nvd medical abbreviation for Nausea, Vomiting, Diarrhea

O

o2 medical abbreviation for Oxygen
O.D. medical abbreviation for Overdose or Ocular Dexter (Right eye)
ORIF medical abbreviation for Open reduction and Internal Fixation
O.S. medical abbreviation for Ocular Sinister (Left eye)

P

P medical abbreviation for Pulse
PAC medical abbreviation for premature atrial contraction
PALS medical abbreviation for Pediatric Advanced Life Support
PCN medical abbreviation for Penicillin
PCR medical abbreviation for Patient Care Report or Prehospital Care Report

PE medical abbreviation for Pulmonary Embolism or Pulmonary Edema. (Can also be Physical Exam)
PEA medical abbreviation for pulseless electrical activity
PEEP medical abbreviation for positive end expiratory pressure
PMH medical abbreviation for Previous Medical History
PNA medical abbreviation for pneumonia
PO medical abbreviation for by mouth (per os)

POV medical abbreviation for privately owned vehicle
ppm medical abbreviation for parts per million
prn medical abbreviation for as needed or when required
PSVT medical abbreviation for paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia
Pt medical abbreviation for Patient

PTA medical abbreviation for Prior to Arrival
PVC medical abbreviation for Premature Ventricular Contraction

Q

q medical abbreviation for every

R

RDS medical abbreviation for Respiratory Distress Syndrome
RLL medical abbreviation for Right Lower Lobe
RLQ medical abbreviation for Right Lower Quadrant
RML medical abbreviation for Right Middle Lobe
r/o, RO medical abbreviation for rule out
ROM medical abbreviation for Range of Motion
ROS medical abbreviation for Review of Systems
ROSC medical abbreviation for return of spontaneous circulation
RR medical abbreviation for respiratory rate
RUL medical abbreviation for Right Upper Lobe
RUQ medical abbreviation for right upper quadrant

S

ŝ medical abbreviation for without
SL NTG medical abbreviation for Sublingual Nitroglycerine

SNF medical abbreviation for Skilled Nursing Facility
SOB medical abbreviation for Short of Breath
s/p medical abbreviation for status post
sq - SubQ medical abbreviation for Subcutaneous
SR medical abbreviation for sinus rhythm
STAT medical abbreviation for at once, immediately
STEMI medical abbreviation for ST segment elevation myocardial infarction
ST medical abbreviation for sinus tachycardia
SVT medical abbreviation for supraventricular tachycardia
Sx medical abbreviation for symptom
Sz medical abbreviation for Seizure

T

medical abbreviation for temperature
TIA medical abbreviation for Transient Ischemic Attack
TKO medical abbreviation for To Keep Open (refers to IVs)
Tx medical abbreviation for treatment or transport

U

UTI medical abbreviation for Urinary Track Infection

V

VS medical abbreviation for Vital Signs
VSS medical abbreviation for Vital Signs Stable

W

WNL medical abbreviation for Within Normal Limits

Y

y/o medical abbreviation for years old

Some medical acronyms have different meanings in the medical field. For example, the CO abbreviation can mean both Cardiac Output and Carbon Monoxide. Other medical acronyms can mean something different depending on what medical professional you talk to or what area of the hospital you are in.

This page deals with Emergency Medical Response (EMS), Paramedic and EMT terminology. These are medical terms often used in the field and Emergency Department, and frequently seen in the patient’s chart.

Here are frequently asked questions about EMT terminology:

What does AOS stand for? Arrived on scene.
What does BSI stand for? Body Substance Isolation.
What does DOS stand for? Dead on scene.
What does IO stand for? Intraosseous.
What does Mg stand for? Magnesium.
What does mg stand for? Milligram.
What does mL stand for? Milliliter.
What does DOA mean? Dead on arrival.
What does DT mean? Delirium Tremens - which happen during alcohol withdrawal.
What is clr? Clear.
What is an EJ line? An IV line place in the External Jugular Vein.

V-fib and V-tach refer to cardiac arrhythmias.

PASG and the MAST medical term refer to pneumatic anti-shock garment and military anti-shock trousers. In most areas these are rarely used anymore.

And don’t forget that ACLS stands for Advanced Cardiac Life Support.

→ Check out our EMT Mnemonics and Medical Acronyms page for more on medical terminology.

→ Looking for more? Check out our Basic Medical Terminology for the EMT page.

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