Health knowledge made personal
Join this community!
› Share page:
Search posts:

Medical terminogies: acrnoyms, abbreviation and slangs

Posted Mar 16 2012 12:02pm


MEDICAL ABBREVIATIONS are in common use in today’s rapidly evolving of
medicine. However in a study by Sinha et al. (2001), healthcare professionals only
managed to correctly interpret 43% of medical abbreviation and suggested to keep
their usage to a minimum as to assure effective and safe communication, henceforth
emphasising the need to study them.

Problem domain

Their usage serves to improve efficiency in terms of space and time as long as they are
used appropriately. It has however drawn criticisms owing to the fact that they
are seen as a major contributor to human errors;
  • Firstly, some medical abbreviations are ambiguous, i.e. can be mapped to more than
one term with different underlying meaning, and therefore can be easily
misinterpreted as Kuhn (2007) stressed. Consider these two instances for example:
h.s which could denote “hour sleep” or “half-strength”
dc/ DC/ disc which could mean “discontinue” or “discharge”.

  • Secondly, some medical abbreviations refer to rarely used original terms; hence
deciphering them on their own creates additional workload especially for a novice.
Prominent examples include Latin prescription abbreviation such as:
Po (per os) means "by mouth"
qid (quater in die) means "4 times a da y"
The later can also be misinterpreted or misread, especially in hand written format
where sloppiness and illegibility factors in, as “qd (quaque die)” which on the other
hand means every day.
  • Thirdly, medical abbreviations are often region specific, denoting a medical
conditions, procedures or treatments prevalent within that locality, which adds to the
confusion because of how people in other locations may interpret them. Examples
Crump (UK) RTA [Road Traffic Accident], (US) crash; trying to die
ATS Acute Thespian Syndrome: faking illness; known in US
as MGM syndrome
Furthermore as Kuhn (2007) described, this issue can even be encountered within
the different wards of the same hospital. In scenario presented, the flotation of
nurses from one department to another may lead them to become unfamiliar with
the abbreviations being used in a particular department.
For example these two are some of the commonly used in children’s medical ward,
Khawaja et al. (2010): O/E Observed over Expected; NKDA No known drug allergies
Whilst in an orthopaedic ward, the prominent examples of medical abbreviation
encountered include:AKA Above knee amputation ; BMD Bone mineral density


So for this study can you contribute by....

identify these medical terms: < >

or perhaps share the more confusing ones they've encountered here: < >

Many thanks

Post a comment
Write a comment:

Related Searches