Medical Lexicons Thrown Around In Hospital

In medicine, there are essentially new words and terms to learn. It’s like a whole new language you have to learn.

Below are some of the more interesting terms and abbreviations we doctors throw around verbally and write in medical notes all the time:


BIBA – Brought In by Ambulance

I have just seen a 90 year old male BIBA, who came off his Harley Davidson doing 160km/h on the highway

DDx – Short for Differential Diagnosis

Med Student 1: Um, the medical notes have a heading DDx, and then just a list of medical conditions. What does DDx stand for?

Med Student 2: That stands for differential diagnosis – it’s essentially a list of the most likely medical diagnoses based on the history taken.

DRE Short for digital rectal examination (same as PR)

ED Consultant: The patient in bed 3 hasn’t passed bowel motions in over 10 days. Let’s get one of our interns to perform the DRE on that patient *high fives the other ED senior doctors*

Drip – Cannula (a piece of plastic tubing inserted into the veins to allow blood access for administration of medications)

Intern (speaking to patient): Ok sir, I’m going to need to give you a stab to put this drip in

Patient: You’re going to stab me? That sounds really painful!

Intern: Oh, terribly sorry if I scared you. I meant I’m going to insert this needle into your vein, and leave behind a plastic tubing so that we can give you fluids.

Perf – Short for perforation

On review of the patient’s X-ray, free gas was seen under the diaphragm. The patient has probably got a perf, probably from his peptic ulcer.

PMHx – Short for Past Medical History

Med Student 1: I don’t get it. The notes have PMHx and just the patient’s current illnesses. What does it stand for man?

Med Student 2: Past Medical History. It’s just a list of the patient’s current illnesses.

PR – Short for per rectal (a rectal examination)

Intern (to another intern): Ugh, just had to do a PR on a patient who hasn’t defecated in 10 days after being co-erced by the consultant.

SOB – Shortness of breath

I saw a 55 year old gentleman that presents with acute onset SOB on a background of a 40 pack year smoking history…

Stat – Instantly

That 55 year old gentleman is severely dehydrated from diarrhoea! Give him a fluid order, STAT!


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