Question

Critical Care

What are some common acronyms and terms used in the emergency room (ER)?

A Answers (1)

  • AKathleen Handal, MD, Emergency Medicine, answered
    Like any other area of work, the emergency room (ER) has its own language, often comprised of abbreviations used to save time and space. Here's a list of common terms you might hear around the ER.
    • ABG (arterial blood gas) -- a blood test to measure your exact blood oxygen level and other critical values
    • Angina pectoris -- chest pain from heart disease
    • AOB (alcohol on breath)
    • CABG (coronary artery bypass graft) -- an operation (open heart surgery) in which a piece of vein or artery is used to bypass a blockage in a coronary artery; performed to prevent myocardial infarction and relieve angina pectoris
    • CAD (coronary artery disease) -- atherosclerosis (hardening) of the arteries to the heart
    • CATH (catheterization) -- passing a catheter into arteries to see if there is narrowing, commonly used to study the heart
    • CHF (congestive heart failure) -- condition where the heart is unable to pump efficiently, resulting in fluid retention in the tissues and shortness of breath
    • CT or CAT -- refers to an imaging study that looks inside the body as cross-sectional images
    • CVA (cerebral vascular accident) -- a blockage or rupture of a blood vessel in or around your brain, also referred to as stroke
    • DNAR (do not attempt resuscitation) or DNR (do not resuscitate)
    • ECG or EKG (electrocardiogram) -- a test that measures and shows the electrical activity of the heart muscle
    • ICD (implantable cardioverter defibrillator) -- a device under the skin with a wire in the heart that can sense and deliver electrical energy as needed to keep the heart in normal rhythm
    • IM (intramuscular) -- refers to an injection given into the muscle
    • MI (myocardial infarction) -- heart attack, meaning the heart muscle is dying
    • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) -- using a magnetic device to provide a detailed view of a particular area inside the body
    • NG tube (nasogastric tube) -- tube inserted through your nose into your stomach
    • NPO (nothing by mouth) -- means you can’t eat or drink anything
    • PET scan (positron emission tomography) -- shows how organs and tissues are functioning, i.e., blood flow, oxygen use and sugar (glucose) metabolism
    • SOB -- short of breath
    • SQ (subcutaneous) -- injection given just under the skin
    • TIA (transient ischemic attack) -- temporary loss of speech or limb function, often referred to as a “mini stroke” that may herald a major stroke
    • UA (urine analysis) -- a lab test to examine urine for infection or chemical abnormalities
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What happens if I need to be transferred from the ER to another facility?