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

Source
Medical Slangs
Meaning
Explanation 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.

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Comments 9 comments

drbj profile image

drbj 4 years ago from south Florida

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


Shil1978 profile image

Shil1978 4 years ago Author

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


RGNestle profile image

RGNestle 4 years ago from Seattle

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 profile image

Shil1978 4 years ago Author

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 :)


sen.sush23 profile image

sen.sush23 4 years ago from Kolkata, India

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 profile image

Shil1978 4 years ago Author

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


thelyricwriter profile image

thelyricwriter 4 years ago from West Virginia

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 profile image

Shil1978 4 years ago Author

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

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!!


d.william profile image

d.william 4 years ago from Somewhere in the south

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.

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