Medical Abbreviations

While the glossary of “Medicalese” contains medical jargon and some spoken abbreviations, there are far more abbreviations commonly written in medical records and related documents. Individual institutions sometimes have lists of commonly used abbreviations; if available, these are the best source of information for physicians working in those institutions.

For a more extensive list of medical abbreviations, the websites listed below may be helpful.

The Clinician’s Ultimate Reference (from Detroit VA Medical Center)
This is a very good list of medical abbreviations. It is reasonably comprehensive but not overwhelming. A few of the abbreviations are a bit obscure but most are in fairly common usage. The site also has a great deal of other useful information, tables, and tools.

This is also a reasonably comprehensive yet manageable list of abbreviations similar in scope to The Clinician’s Ultimate Reference.

Elsevier Evolve
This site has several one-page quick references on common abbreviations, lab values, and other quick reference information.

Joint Commission Do Not Use List
This is the official Joint Commission list of abbreviations that should not be used due to the possibility of misinterpretation. Each entry includes the potential problem and suggestion of an alternate term or abbreviation to use.

Instead of providing a list of abbreviations, this site allows users to search a database of over 200,000 entries either by abbreviation to find a definition or by definition to find related abbreviations.

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