Medicine is an extensive but valuable topic. It requires dedicated students willing to put in the hours to qualify for the various medical fields available. For the rest of us, we can only admire from a distance. However, while it’s true that there are people who are paid to know everything to do with medicine, there are times when we wish we could understand some of the industry jargon. Whether you are from watching an episode of The Good Doctor or unfortunate enough to have been hospitalized, knowing some of the basics can come in handy. Here are the most common medical jargon/slang/prefixes/suffixes and what they mean.

1. Acute

Acute describes a severe or painful condition that quickly fades away.

2. Abrasion

An abrasion is a small superficial scrape, usually on the skin’s surface.

3. Bagging

Bagging is helping a patient breathe by squeezing a bag attached to a face mask they are wearing.

4. Ad Lib

Ad lib comes from the Latin ad libitum, which means “at one’s pleasure.” In a medical setting, ad lib means the patient can do what they want. For example, they can freely move out of bed or take a particular meal.

5. Benign

Benign describes a non-cancerous tumor or growth.

6. Sutures

These are stitches used to join tissues during the healing process.

7. Biopsy

Biopsy is removing a piece of the patient’s tissue for laboratory medical examination.

8. O Sign

The “O-sign” is a medical slang that describes a patient’s open-mouthed, slack-jawed appearance. It is usually closely used with the “Q-sign,” which indicates that the patient’s mouth is open with the tongue protruding.

9. Toxicology screen

Sometimes called a tox screen, a toxicology screen describes the tests a patient undergoes to ascertain the approximate amount of legal or illegal drugs they may have taken.

10. #

The sign # is used to describe a broken or fractured bone.

11. ADR

ADR stands for Adverse Drug Reaction. It is commonly used to describe a patient reacting to high blood pressure disease medication.

12. AKA

In a medical setting, AKA stands for Above-the-Knee Amputation. The opposite is BKA (Below-the-Knee Amputation).

13. BMI

This is an individual’s Body Mass Index. It represents how much a person should weigh depending on their height.

14. HPV

HPV stands for Human Papilloma Virus, the one that causes cervical cancer.

15. MRI

This stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. It is an imaging test used to examine the patient’s internal organs.

16. ACL

If you love contact sports such as soccer, American football, and rugby, you have probably heard about players suffering ACL injuries. This is an acronym for Anterior Cruciate Ligament. It is one of the most common knee injuries.

17. A.C.

This means a drug should be taken before meals.

18. IBS

This stands for Irritable Bowel Syndrome, a disorder that affects the intestines and the stomach. The target area is sometimes called the gastrointestinal tract.

19. AMP

This is an acronym for Average Manufacturer Price. It is the average amount of money that a wholesaler pays a manufacturer for a specific medication. In most cases, AMP does not include prompt-pay discounts.

20. -ectomy

This suffix is used for any procedure that involves surgical removal.

21. -mortem

-mortem is usually a death-related issue.

22. -rhea

-rrhea is a discharge or fluid flow.

23. Cyto

Cyto is a prefix denoting anything to do with cytoplasm or cells.

24. Oncology

Oncology is a sub-specialty in medicine that involves studying cancer. This entails everything from investigation to diagnosis and treatment.

25. Parenteral

This means that the subject matter is located or happening outside the intestine. For a parenteral drug, it means its admiration must not allow it to reach the intestines. In that case, alternative methods such as subcutaneous, intravenous, and intramuscular injections are used.

26. Pharmacokinetics

Often abbreviated as PK, pharmacokinetics is the study of how the human body interacts with administered drugs or other substances for the time that it is exposed.

27. Outpatient

This refers to same-day check-in and check-out by a patient.

28. In Remission

This means the disease is not getting worse. It also doesn’t necessarily mean the patient is getting better or cured.

29. Derma

Derma describes anything related to the skin. It can be an ailment or a doctor specializing in skin treatment.

30. -somnia

This suffix describes anything to do with sleep.

31. Hypertension

Hypertension is when a patient’s blood pressure is too high (usually above 140/90 mmHg). Its opposite is hypotension; it happens when the blood pressure is between 90/60 mmHg and 120/80 mmHg.

32. Intravenous

Intravenous means something is happening within or administered through the veins. It is mainly used to describe injections.

33. Malignant

A malignant tissue contains cancerous cells, especially those that can relocate/spread to other body parts. Malignant cells grow and spread quickly. Thanks to their ever-changing genetic makeup, they also don’t die easily.

34. Thrombosis

Thrombosis refers to the formation of a blood clot, whether in the arteries or veins, leading to limitation of natural blood flow. The clots can form a partial or complete blockage.

35. Edema

An edema is a swelling.

36. Hysterectomy

Hysterectomy is the surgical removal of the uterus, after which the individual won’t menstruate or carry a pregnancy.

37. Intubation

Intubation is when a medical practitioner inserts a tube into the patient’s mouth or nose and down into their trachea.

38. Stasis

Stasis refers to slowing or stopping the normal flow of the patient’s body fluid. This may include (but is not limited to) feces, urine, and blood.

39. Zoonotic Disease

A zoonotic disease can be transmitted from animals to humans. Examples include rabies, trichinosis, and cat scratch disease.

40. Fusion

As the name suggests, fusion is joining adjacent vertebrae or bones to boost the patient’s stability.

41. Bid

Bid is a medical term used to recommend that something be done twice daily. It comes from the Latin “bis in die.” On the other hand, Ter in die (TID) means thrice per day.

42. Catheter

A catheter is a thin tube constructed from medical-grade materials. It serves several functions, including allowing patients to drain their urine freely.

43. Clinical Trial

A clinical trial refers to an experiment with people. Multiple institutions that perform clinical trials are called cooperative groups.

44. Congenital

This means that whatever is being referred to was present before birth.

45. Hematoma

A hematoma is a severe bruise resulting from an injury that causes blood to collect and pool under the patient’s skin. In most cases, the pooled blood causes the affected area to feel lumpy, rubbery, or spongy.

46. Idiopathic

Idiopathic means the cause of something is unknown.





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Last Update: May 1, 2024