Common Medical Abbreviations & Terms (cont.)

O.D.: Right eye.

O.S.: Left eye.

O.U.: Both eyes.

ORIF: Open reduction and internal fixation, such as with the orthopedic repair of a hip fracture.


P: Pulse. Pulse is recorded as part of the physical examination. It is one of the "vital signs."

p.o.: By mouth. From the Latin terminology per os.

p.r.n.: As needed. So that it is not always done, but done only when the situation calls for it (or example, taking a pain medication only when having pain and not without pain).

PCL: Posterior cruciate ligament.

PERRLA: Pupils equal, round, and reactive to light and accommodation.

Plt: Platelets, one of the blood forming elements along with the white and red blood cells.

PMI: Point of maximum impulse of the heart when felt during examination, as in beats against the chest.


q.d.: Each day. As in taking a medicine daily.

q.i.d.: Four times daily. As in taking a medicine four times daily.

q2h: Every 2 hours. As in taking a medicine every 2 hours.

q3h: Every 3 hours. As in taking a medicine every 3 hours.

qAM: Each morning. As in taking a medicine each morning.

qhs: At each bedtime. As in taking a medicine each bedtime.

qod: Every other day. As in taking a medicine every other day.

qPM: Each evening. As in taking a medicine each evening.


R/O: Rule out. Doctors frequently will rule out various possible diagnoses when figuring out the correct diagnosis.

REB: Rebound, as in rebound tenderness of the abdomen when pushed in and then released.

RLQ: Right lower quadrant. The appendix is located in the RLQ of the abdomen.

ROS: Review of systems. An overall review concerns relating to the organ systems, such as the respiratory, cardiovascular, and neurologic systems.

RUQ: Right upper quadrant. The liver is located in the RUQ of the abdomen.


s/p: Status post. For example, a person who had a knee operation would be s/p a knee operation.

SOB: Shortness of breath.

SQ: Subcutaneous. This is a typical notation when noting or ordering an injection (shot) given into the fatty tissue under the skin, such as with insulin for diabetes mellitus.


T: Temperature. Temperature is recorded as part of the physical examination. It is one of the "vital signs."

T&A: Tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy.

t.i.d.: Three times daily. As in taking a medicine three times daily.

tab: Tablet.

TAH: Total abdominal hysterectomy.

THR: Total hip replacement.

TKR: Total knee replacement.


UA or u/a: Urinalysis. A UA is a typical part of a comprehensive physical examination.

URI: Upper respiratory infection, such as sinusitis or the common cold.

ut dict: As directed. As in taking a medicine according to the instructions that the healthcare practitioner gave in the office or in the past.

UTI: Urinary tract infection.


VSS: Vital signs are stable. This notation means that from the standpoint of the temperature, blood pressure, and pulse, the patient is doing well.


Wt: Weight. Body weight is often recorded as part of the physical examination.

REFERENCE: Fauci, Anthony S., et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 17th ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2008.


Last Editorial Review: 4/22/2010