Common Medical Abbreviations S - Y

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Medical Prefixes to Indicate Size

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:47 Abbreviations Starting with S
  • 2:47 Abbreviations Starting with T
  • 5:03 Abbreviations Starting with U
  • 6:32 Abbreviations Starting with V
  • 7:44 Abbreviations Starting with W
  • 8:46 Abbreviations Starting…
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Speed Speed
Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Adrianne Baron

Adrianne has taught high school and college biology and has a master's degree in cancer biology.

We will be going over common medical abbreviations that begin with the letters 'S' through 'Y'. How they are used and where they may appear are also going to be covered in this lesson.

Medical Abbreviations

There are many medical terms that are very long and medical phrases that are even longer. As a way of making communication easier in the healthcare field, abbreviations were adopted and are used to express commonly used terms and phrases. This has greatly reduced the amount of time and paper that it takes to keep track of patient information. Some abbreviations are very similar and/or contain the same letters.

Abbreviations are case sensitive due to this fact, and accuracy must be maintained when using medical abbreviations. We are now going to cover some of the most commonly expressed abbreviations in medical terminology that start with the letters 'S' through 'Y'. We'll also look at how they will appear and be used.

Abbreviations Starting with S

Let's start with 'S'.

The abbreviation s means 'without'. There will be something behind it to let you know what it is without. It may appear in doctor's orders, diagnoses, or treatments.

ss is used to indicate 'one half'. It is most likely to appear as part of a prescription.

sig is something that you may have seen on your prescription bottle before. It means 'write on label'. Whatever is written next to it is to be written on the label of the bottle.

The abbreviation sl lets you know that something is to be taken 'sublingual,' meaning 'under the tongue'.

'Systemic lupus erythematosus' is abbreviated as SLE. This is going to be found in the diagnosis or patient history since it is a disease.

Most offices use SOAP as a way of organizing notes and any possible diagnosis during a patient visit. This stands for 'subjective, objective, assessment, plan'.

SOB does not stand for the same thing in medical terminology as it does in the regular world. Here it means 'shortness of breath'. It is normally used when assessing a patient as they are doing activities or at rest.

SQ is short for 'subcutaneous', which indicates where a shot should be given. It tells the person giving the shot to give it in the fatty layer under the skin.

You may have heard the abbreviation 'STAT' before if you watch any of the medical dramas on TV over the years. It means 'immediately'. This can be an oral order or a written doctor's order, but it means that whatever is needed should be done right away.

Sx is an abbreviation that looks close to the one for prescription but in this case, it means 'symptoms'. These are sensations that a person can feel due to a disease, but that cannot be seen or measured by others.

Abbreviations Starting with T

Let's now move on to the letter 'T' and its abbreviations.

T represents 'temperature'. This is normally indicated in the upper portion of the patient chart as part of the vital signs.

T&A means 'tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy'. The abbreviation describes a surgery and will likely be in the treatment or on a patient history.

The abbreviation tab is short for 'tablet'. Now, this isn't something that you write on, but instead refers to a type of pill. This will most likely be found as part of a prescription.

TAH is short for 'total abdominal hysterectomy'. Since this is also a surgery, it will be a part of the treatment or patient history. The abbreviation can also be used in the patient chart where it asks about last menstrual period.

The disease 'tuberculosis' is abbreviated as TB. It will be found in the diagnosis or patient history.

td is short for the 'tetanus-diphtheria toxoid' shot. It will be a part of the patient history or may be seen on the vaccine schedule.

TIA means 'transient ischemic attack', which are often referred to as mini-strokes. It will appear as part of the diagnosis or patient history.

The abbreviation tid means that something is to happen 'three times a day'. It could be used for writing prescriptions or for doctor's orders.

TNTC may appear on a lab report and means 'too numerous to count'.

TSH is short for 'thyroid-stimulating hormone'. It is used normally for lab tests to determine amounts of the hormone.

'Thrombin time' is abbreviated as TT. It is also a lab test and will show up on lab requests as well as lab results.

The abbreviation TURP is used to describe the 'transurethral resection of the prostate'.

TVH means 'total vaginal hysterectomy'. This can be found in the treatment or patient history sections.

'Treatment' is abbreviated as Tx. This will be followed by whatever the treatment plan is for the patient.

Abbreviations Starting with 'U'

There aren't quite so many abbreviations that begin with 'U', but let's take a look at some of them now.

UA is the abbreviation for 'urinalysis'. This is a test that is frequently done during an office visit to give indications on the state of some internal organ. The abbreviation will appear in the doctor's orders and as part of the lab results.

When a person has type O negative blood, then they are considered to be a 'universal blood donor', which is abbreviated as UBD. The abbreviation may be notated on the patient chart or on a donor card.

There may be the need to explain that something is located or happening in the 'upper gastrointestinal tract'. The abbreviation for this is UGI. This may include structures such as the mouth, pharynx, larynx, and esophagus.

Just like there is an upper portion of the GI tract, there is an upper portion of the respiratory tract, which includes the nose, pharynx, larynx, and trachea. If an infection occurs anywhere in those parts of the tract, then it is abbreviated as URI, meaning 'upper respiratory infection'.

US is short for 'ultrasound'. This abbreviation is used in doctor's orders when they want a visual record of an internal organ.

UTI means 'urinary tract infection'. The abbreviation lets you know that there is an infection process somewhere in the urinary tract, such as the kidneys, bladder, or urethra.

Abbreviations Starting with V

Moving on to 'V' abbreviations, we see that VC is short for 'vital capacity', which is the most air that a person can inhale and exhale in one breath. This is normally noted when doing lung function tests.

There are times when some medications can be ordered verbally and other times that they have to be written. VO is short for 'voice order'.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account