Guide to Nursing and Healthcare Acronyms and Abbreviations

November 11, 2021 · 4 Min Read

Reviewed by Elizabeth M. Clarke, FNP, MSN, RN, MSSW

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There are hundreds — if not thousands — of medical abbreviations and acronyms used in nursing. Test your knowledge of nursing titles, degrees, exams, and procedures.

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Guide to Nursing and Healthcare Acronyms and Abbreviations
Credit: Jung Getty / Moment / Getty Images

Don't know the difference between an Fx and a Dx? Even seasoned nurses on the ward do not know all the nursing abbreviations and acronyms that describe healthcare exams, certifications, degrees, types of nurses, hospital units, and medical charts and records.

Nurses do, however, need to know where to look up these medical abbreviations. This guide covers common — although not all — nursing abbreviations and healthcare acronyms.

Featured Online Programs

true Types of Nurses
Types of Nursing Degrees
Nursing Exams and Tests
  • NCLEX-RN: National Council Licensure Examination - Registered Nurse
  • NCLEX-PN: National Council Licensure Examination - Practical Nurse
  • BLS: Basic life support
  • ACLS: Advanced cardiovascular life support
  • PALS: Pediatric advanced life support
  • NRP: Neonatal resuscitation program
  • SANE-A: Sexual assault nurse examiner - adult/adolescent
  • SANE-P: Sexual assault nurse examiner - pediatric
  • ECC: Emergency cardiovascular care
Common Nursing Certifications
  • ANP-BC: Adult nurse practitioner - board certified
  • A-GNP: Adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner
  • AACRN: Advanced HIV/AIDS certified registered nurse
  • ACHPN: Advanced certified hospice and palliative nurse
  • ACNP: Acute care nurse practitioner
  • ADM: Advanced diabetes management
  • AOCN: Advanced oncology certified nurse
  • BMTCN: Blood and marrow transplant certified nurse
  • CBC: Certified breastfeeding counselor
  • CBHC-BS: Correctional behavioral health certification - behavioral specialty
  • CCE: Certified childbirth educator
  • CCRN: Critical care/acute registered nurse
  • CCRP: Certified clinical research professional
  • CEN: Certified emergency nurse
  • CHPCA: Certified hospice and palliative care administrator
  • CLC: Certified lactation counselor
  • CLNC: Certified legal nurse consultant
  • CMCN: Certification in management care nursing
  • CMSRN: Certified medical-surgical registered nurse
  • CNE: Certified nurse educator
  • CPN: Certified pediatric nurse
  • CPSN: Certified plastic surgical nurse
  • CRNA: Certified registered nurse anesthetist
  • CRRN: Certified rehabilitation registered nurse
  • FNP-BC: Family nurse practitioner - board certified
  • NCSN: National certified school nurse
  • RN-BC: Registered nurse - board certified
  • RNC-NIC: Registered nurse certified - neonatal intensive care
  • RNC-OB: Registered nurse certified - inpatient obstetric nursing
  • SANE-A: Certified sexual assault nurse examiner - adult/adolescent
  • SANE-P: Certified sexual assault nurse examiner - pediatric
  • TCRN: Trauma certified registered nurse
Common Hospital Units
  • ACU: Acute care unit
  • CCN: Continuing care nursery
  • CCU: Coronary or critical care unit
  • CICU: Cardiac intensive care unit
  • ED: Emergency department
  • ER: Emergency room
  • HEM-ONC: Hematology - oncology
  • ICCU: Intermediate cardiac care unit
  • ICU: Intensive care unit
  • L&D: Labor and delivery
  • NBN: Newborn nursery
  • NICU: Neonatal intensive care unit
  • OR: Operating room
  • PACU: Postanesthesia care unit
  • PCU: Progressive care unit
  • PICU: Pediatric intensive care unit
  • TCU: Transitional care unit
  • TICU: Trauma intensive care unit
  • SDU: Special delivery unit
  • SICU: Surgical intensive care unit
  • VICU: Vascular intermediate care unit

Medical Chart/Record Abbreviations and Acronyms

The following is a list of commonly used terms. Please note that most hospitals will have their own list of approved abbreviations that are allowed to be used in charting and medical recording. Please follow your hospital's list of approved abbreviations and acronyms.

Charting
  • A&O: Alert and oriented
  • ALS or BLS: Advanced or basic life support
  • AMA: Against medical advice
  • BM: Bowel movement
  • C/O: Complaint of
  • CC: Chief complaint
  • CP: Chest pain
  • CV: Cardiovascular
  • DC: Discharge or discontinue
  • DDx: Differential diagnosis
  • DNR: Do not resuscitate
  • DOB: Date of birth
  • DOE: Dyspnea on exertion
  • Dx: Diagnosis
  • EBL: Estimated blood loss
  • FB: Foreign body
  • Fx: Fracture
  • GI: Gastrointestinal
  • GSW: Gunshot wound
  • H&P: History & physical
  • H/O: History of
  • HPI: History of present illness
  • I&O: Intake and output
  • IBW: Ideal body weight
  • ICU: Intensive care unit
  • ID: Infectious disease
  • MDM: Medical decision making
  • MVA: Motor vehicle accident
  • NAD: No acute distress
  • NKDA: No known drug allergies
  • PCP: Primary care physician
  • RF: Risk factors
  • ROS: Review of systems
  • S/P: Status post
  • SOB: Shortness of breath
  • STAT: Immediately
  • Sx: Symptoms
  • Tx: Treatment
  • UOP: Urine output
  • WNL: Within normal limits
Vital Signs
  • BMI: Body mass index
  • BP: Blood pressure
  • HR: Heart rate
  • Ht/Wt: Height and weight
  • P: Pulse
  • RR: Respiratory rate
  • SpO2 or SaO2: Oxygen saturation
  • T: Temperature
  • VS: Vital signs
  • VSS: Vital signs stable
Lab
  • ABG: Arterial blood gas
  • BMP: Basic metabolic panel
  • CBC: Complete blood count
  • CMP: Comprehensive metabolic panel
  • Ca: Calcium
  • H&H: Hemoglobin and hematocrit
  • HCT: Hematocrit
  • Hb or HGB: Hemoglobin
  • INR: International normalized ratio
  • K: Potassium
  • LFT: Liver function test
  • Na: Sodium
  • PT: Prothrombin time
  • PTT: Partial thromboplastin time
  • Plt: Platelets
  • RBC: Red blood cells
  • T&C: Type and cross
  • T&S: Type and screen
  • UA: Urinalysis
  • WBC: White blood cells
Imaging/Test
  • ABX: Abdominal x-ray
  • CT: Computed tomography
  • CXR: Chest X-ray
  • EEG: Electroencephalogram
  • EKG or ECG: Electrocardiogram
  • KUB: Kidney, ureter, and bladder x-ray
  • MRI: Magnetic resonance imaging
  • PFT: Pulmonary function test
  • US: Ultrasound
Pharmacy
  • AC: Before meals
  • BID: Twice daily
  • IM: Intramuscular
  • IV: Intravenous
  • NPO: Nothing by mouth
  • OTC: Over the counter
  • PC: After meals
  • PO: By mouth
  • PRN: As needed
  • Q2H: Every 2 hours
  • Q3H: Every 3 hours
  • QAM: Every morning
  • QD: Once daily
  • QH: Once every hour
  • QHS: At bedtime
  • QID: Four times daily
  • QOD: Every other day
  • QPM: Every evening
  • SC or SQ: Subcutaneous
  • TID: Three times daily
Medication
  • ABX: Antibiotics
  • ACEi: ACE inhibitor
  • APAP: Acetaminophen
  • ARB: Angiotensin II receptor blocker
  • ASA: Aspirin
  • BB: Beta blocker
  • CCB: Calcium channel blocker
  • D5W: Dextrose 5% in water
  • ETOH: Alcohol
  • HCTZ: Hydrochlorothiazide
  • LR: Lactated ringer's
  • MOM: Milk of magnesia
  • MTX: Methotrexate
  • NS: Normal saline
  • NTG: Nitroglycerin
  • OCP: Oral contraceptive pill
  • PCN: Penicillin
  • PPI: Proton pump inhibitor
  • TMP/SMX: Trimethoprim sulfamethoxazole
  • TPA: Tissue plasminogen activator
Diagnosis/Condition
  • AKI: Acute kidney injury
  • ARDS: Adult respiratory distress syndrome
  • ARF: Acute renal failure
  • Afib or AF: Atrial fibrillation
  • BPH: Benign prostatic hyperplasia
  • CAD: Coronary artery disease
  • CF: Cystic fibrosis
  • CHF: Congestive heart failure
  • CKD: Chronic kidney disease
  • COPD: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • CP: Cerebral palsy
  • CVA: Cerebrovascular accident
  • DM: Diabetes mellitus
  • DVT: Deep venous thrombosis
  • ESRD: End stage renal disease
  • GERD: Gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • HTN: Hypertension
  • IBD: Inflammatory bowel disease
  • IBS: Irritable bowel syndrome
  • ICP: Intracranial pressure
  • MI: Myocardial infarction
  • MS: Multiple sclerosis
  • OSA: Obstructive sleep apnea
  • PD: Parkinson's disease
  • PE: Pulmonary embolism
  • PNA: Pneumonia
  • PUD: Peptic ulcer disease
  • PVC: Premature ventricular contraction
  • RA: Rheumatoid arthritis
  • RAD: Reactive airway disease
  • RSV: Respiratory syncytial virus
  • SBO: Small bowel obstruction
  • TBI: Traumatic brain injury
  • TGA: Transient global amnesia
  • TIA: Transient ischemic attack
  • UC: Ulcerative colitis
  • URI: Upper respiratory infection
  • UTI: Urinary tract infection
  • VF: Ventricular fibrillation
  • VT: Ventricular tachycardia
Anatomy

Abdomen

  • ABD: Abdomen
  • RUQ: Right upper quadrant
  • LUQ: Left upper quadrant
  • RLQ: Right lower quadrant
  • LLQ: Left lower quadrant

Heart

  • RA: Right atrium
  • LA: Left atrium
  • RV: Right ventricle
  • LV: Left ventricle

Extremities

  • RUE: Right upper extremity
  • LUE: Left upper extremity
  • RLE: Right lower extremity
  • LLE: Left lower extremity

Lungs

  • LUL: Left upper lobe
  • LLL: Left lower lobe
  • RUL: Right upper lobe
  • RML: Right middle lobe
  • RLL: Right lower lobe

Miscellaneous

  • CBD: Common bile duct
  • OD: Right eye
  • OS: Left eye
  • OU: Both eyes
  • HC: Head circumference
Treatment/Care
  • AKA: Above the knee amputation
  • BKA: Below the knee amputation
  • BiPAP: Bilevel positive airway pressure
  • Bx: Biopsy
  • CABG: Coronary artery bypass graft
  • CPAP: Continuous positive airway pressure
  • ECMO: Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation
  • FNA: Fine needle aspiration
  • I&D: Incision and drainage
  • IUP: Intrauterine pregnancy
  • IVIG: Intravenous immune globulin
  • NGT: Nasogastric tube
  • ORIF: Open reduction internal fixation
  • OT: Occupational therapy
  • PEEP: Positive end expiratory pressure
  • POC: Point of care
  • PPE: Personal protective equipment
  • PT: Physical therapy
  • Post-op: Postoperative
  • Pre-op: Preoperative

Reviewed by:

Elizabeth Clarke (Poon) is a board-certified family nurse practitioner who provides primary and urgent care to pediatric populations. She earned a BSN and MSN from the University of Miami.

Clarke is a paid member of our Healthcare Review Partner Network. Learn more about our review partners.

NurseJournal.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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