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Medical Slangs Word List With Meanings

Have you ever found yourself at the hospital and heard doctors and nurses speak in a language alien to you? Medical language is hard to understand for the layperson as it is, but what happens when you add medical slang into the mix? Well, needless to say, you have lots of confused patients who have no clue as to what is going on? Medical slang is a type of slang used exclusively by doctors, nurses, and other medical health professionals. It typically consists of words that are shortened to a brief form, with abbreviations or acronyms, and fancy-sounding words. You've got to be impressed hearing it all. It is quite an art form one may argue. Why medical slang you may ask? Well, think of it as a kind of shorthand for medical professionals. It is convenient and saves a bit of time for them. You may have heard such medical slangs in hospital shows on TV like Scrubs, ER, House MD, and the like. Even though such medical slangs abound in a hospital situation (verbally), it does not mostly become part of your medical record. The reason of course is that such medical slangs are considered non-words and are not considered appropriate to appear in a professional medical document such as the medical record. So, what are these medical slangs that I speak of?

What follows is a list of some common medical slangs and what the doctor or nurse intend to convey when they use it. This should come in handy the next time you visit your doctor. You'd be in the know of some of the medical speak they use.

List of Medical Slang Words Heard in Hospitals - Medical Slangs Explained

Medical SlangsMeaningExplanation in Layman Terms

 

 

 

afib

atrial fibrillation

Abnormal heart rhythm

alk phos

alkaline phosphatase

An enzyme - you'd find this in your blood test report. They order it as part of a blood test.

amox

amoxicillin

The antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections

angio

angiography or angiogram

Medical imaging study to look inside blood vessels

appy

appendectomy

Usually means the procedure "appendectomy." Can also refer to the appendix or the condition appendicitis.

bicarb

bicarbonate

A component of blood like sodium, potassium, etc. Usually to check levels, tests are ordered as part of your blood test

bili

bilirubin

A bile pigment - tests of which are ordered as part of a blood test.

brady

bradycardia

Slow heartbeat - usually a rate below 50 beats per minute

C. diff or C. difficile

Clostridium difficile

A bacterial species found in human and animal feces. Tests are ordered to check for its presence.

Sounds like "cabbage"

Refers to the abbreviation "CABG"

Stands for "coronary artery bypass graft," also commonly known as "bypass surgery."

cath

catheter or catheterization

Refers to either the medical instrument (catheter) or the procedure (catheterization) - as in heart catheterization.

cath'd

catheterized

The act of putting a catheter.

CBC

complete blood count

Not strictly a slang, but a medical abbreviation. Found commonly in medical reports under the lab section that lists all lab tests.

circ

circumflex artery or circumcision or circulation

Can mean either depending on the context in which it is used.

coags

coagulation studies

Are a group of tests like prothrombin time (PT), partial thromboplastin time (PTT), and international normalized ratio (INR) - used to determine how fast your blood clots.

crit

hematocrit

You would find this as part of your blood test - usually grouped along with hemoglobin.

C-spine

cervical spine

The neck section of your spine.

cysto

cystoscopy

Procedure by which the bladder is viewed by a physician using a cystoscope - a tubular endoscope.

dc'd or d ceed or d seed

either discontinued or discharged

If relates to a medication - means "discontinued." An example would be, "aspirin was dc'd (discontinued)." When relates to discharge from hospital, etc., means "discharged." An example would be "patient was dc'd (discharged) to nursing home."

detox

detoxification

The removal of toxic substances from the body.

dex

dexamethasone

A steroid medication used to treat various conditions.

dig

digoxin or Digitalis (medication)

Medication used to treat certain medical conditions - usually heart related.

DNR

Do Not Resuscitate

A legal order expressing the desire to not undergo CPR or resuscitative measures or life support - either requested by patient or health care power of attorney.

endo

endoscopy

Usually refers to an endoscopic procedure - viewing of the interior of a canal like an EGD - endoscopic exam of the esophagus, stomach and duodenum.

eos

eosinophils

A type of white blood cell - usually found in lab test reports.

epi

epinephrine

A medication used to treat a number of medical conditions - also as an anesthetic.

fem-pop bypass

femoropopliteal bypass

A type of bypass in the knee region - used to bypass diseased blood vessels of the knee.

flex sig

flexible sigmoidoscopy

Similar to a colonoscopy, but unlike a colonoscopy only examines the area up to the sigmoid - the distal most part of the colon.

gent

gentamicin

An antibiotic used to treat certain types of bacterial infections.

heme/onc or Hem-Onc

Hematology/Oncology

Refers to the twin medical specialties of Hematology and Oncology

hep A, hep B, hep C

Hepatitis A, B, and C

Self-explanatory

IVDA

intravenous drug abuse

Self-explanatory

lami

laminectomy

Surgery to remove a part of the vertebral bone of the spine.

lap

laparotomy

Surgical incision into the abdominal wall to view abdominal organs.

lap chole

laparoscopic cholecystectomy

Surgical removal of the gallbladder through laparoscopic or keyhole surgery.

L-spine

lumbar spine

The area of the spine that is your back as opposed to C-spine, which is the cervical or neck area of the spine.

lytes

electrolytes

Common electrolytes are sodium, potassium, chloride, bicarbonate, etc. Form part of a blood test and are ordered to help diagnose certain conditions.

med onc

Medical Oncology

The medical specialty!!

met or mets

metastasis or metastases (plural)

The spread of disease from one part of the body to another - usually refers to the spread of cancer from one part to the other!!

med

medication

Self-explanatory.

MI

myocardial infarction or heart attack

Not a slang but a medical abbreviation commonly used by doctors and nurses.

mics or what sounds like "mikes"

micrograms or mcg

Unit of measure (one-millionth of a gram)

MVA

motor vehicle accident

Medical speak for motor vehicle accident

MVI

multivitamin

Self-explanatory

nebs

nebulizers

Commonly used by asthma patients - the inhaled form of a medication.

neuro

neurologic or neurologist or neurology

Self-explanatory

nitro

nitroglycerin

The medication used to treat chest pain in people who have heart disease.

OD'd or O deed

overdosed

Usually on drugs or medications.

osteo

osteoporosis

The medical condition that causes the thinning or loss of bone tissue/density.

pulse ox

pulse oximetry

Procedure to measure the level of oxygen in blood.

pacer

pacemaker

Self-explanatory

ped or peds

pediatrics

The medical specialty dealing with the health of children.

pen

penicillin

The commonly known group of antibiotics.

phaco

phacoemulsification

A cataract procedure where the cloudy lens is broken up and suctioned out.

preemie

premature infant

Self-explanatory

prepped

prepared

For example, "prepped for surgery."

regurg

regurgitation

Backward flow of blood or food.

retic count

reticulocyte count

Reticulocyte is a young red blood cell. Retic counts are ordered as part of some blood tests.

SOB

shortness of breath

Can be misunderstood so easily by the layman :)

sat or sats

saturation or saturations

Usually refers to oxygen saturation or O2 saturation - a common test ordered by doctors and forms a part of the patient's vital signs.

satting

saturating

In reference to the above!

schizo

schizophrenia

Self-explanatory

script

prescription

Slang for doctor's prescription.

sed rate

sedimentation rate

A lab test - usually ordered to know the rate at which blood cells sediment in an hour.

sono

sonogram

Self-explanatory

Stat.

at once or immediately.

For example, "stat. blood test" would mean the doc wants the blood tests done at once!

tib-fib

tibia-fibula

The twin bones of the leg - the tibia and the fibula.

T-max

temperature maximum

Usually refers to the maximum temperature recorded during a fever episode.

tox screen

toxicology screening

Testing a patient for drugs in the blood.

trach

tracheostomy

A procedure where an opening is made into the trachea or windpipe.

T-spine

thoracic spine

The part of the spine between the neck and the abdomen.

V fib

ventricular fibrillation

Abnormal heart rhythm - potentially life-threatening.

V tach

ventricular tachycardia

Rapid heartbeat originating in the ventricles.

Vanc

vancomycin

An antibiotic medication.

 

 

 

Well, these are just some of the medical slangs you may hear in a hospital. Needless to say, there may be countless more that doctors may have come up with. Rarely would one find so many slangs, abbreviations, jargon as you would find in the medical field. It isn't fun though when you, as the patient, are out of the loop and have no clue to what is being talked about.

Well, perhaps now, you'd be a bit wiser on some of the medical jargon spoken about by doctors and nurses. So, the next time you visit a hospital, you can perhaps test out your knowledge of medical slangs and be in on the medical speak and not be a baffled spectator to the goings-on!!

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Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is only for educational purposes and should not be construed as medical advice. There may be multiple meanings attributable to a given medical slang and the meanings may vary across medical facilities or individual physicians. This list reflects only the common meanings attributable to these slangs in America in general.

Comments

d.william from Somewhere in the south on February 26, 2012:

Interesting concept for a hub. As an old retired R.N. it made me chuckle as well. When we speak (spoke) amongst ourselves in the hospital setting using some of these 'slang' words, i never really gave it a second thought. Sometimes these shortened versions of words were used deliberately so as not to frighten the patient.

Good job.

Shil1978 (author) on February 24, 2012:

Thank you, thelyricwriter, for stopping by and commenting. Thanks for the good stuff - am glad this would help you understand hospital jargon.

Scroll to Continue

I sure hope you don't have to visit the hospital, or very often! About their writing, well, the less said the better :) Take care you too, esp since you seem to be accident prone!!

Richard Ricky Hale from West Virginia on February 23, 2012:

Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting. What a great idea for an article Shil. As I seem to be accident-prone, I find myself at the hospital more then I like to be. Now I will know what they are saying. Wonder if anyone can crack their writing? Very informative and useful article. Take care and see you around.

Shil1978 (author) on January 03, 2012:

Sush, thanks for stopping by and commenting. Glad you found this hub useful :)

Sushmita from Kolkata, India on January 02, 2012:

Shil1978, this is so wonderful. I had not read it earlier. I could tally a few to instances in my memory. This hub is useful.

Shil1978 (author) on October 24, 2011:

Am so glad your wife found this useful, RG. I hope it helps her with her medical coding course! Thanks for letting me know - its always a nice feeling knowing a hub written by me has helped someone :)

RGNestle from Seattle on October 24, 2011:

My wife loves this. She's now taking medical coding and asked me to print this out since it's such a nice "cheat sheet". Thanks!

Shil1978 (author) on October 23, 2011:

Thank you, drbj, for stopping by and commenting. Glad you found this hub useful! You are welcome - it was fun compiling this list :)

drbj and sherry from south Florida on October 23, 2011:

This is a very useful list of common and uncommon medical terms, Shil. Thanks for taking the time to compile and publish it.

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