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!