I tend to use a lot of abbreviations in my writing and terms that may have certain meanings to health care providers, but not to the general public.  So I decided to start a glossary of terms with definitions and resources to help.  This is a work in progress.  Oh, it also includes slang…


ACLS:  Advanced Cardiac Life Support.

AFib:  Atrial Fibrillation.  The atria of the heart a contracting in a non-synchronized manner.  Can be acute or chronic.  Reference.

BLS:  Basic Life Support

Celestial Discharge:  Death

Code Brown:  an explosion of feces, usually all over the bed and just after you came back from lunch.

Cranio-rectal inversion:  Clinical term for having one’s head up one’s ass.  A cepharectalectomy is the surgical correction of this condition.

Drug Seeker:  person who uses wily means including faking, self-mutilation and nebulous complaints in order to score narcotic pain medications.  See also painieurs.

ETOH:  short hand for alcohol, from ethanol.

FB: Foreign Body.  Something that’s put somewhere it ain’t supposed to be.

F.O.S.:  Full of Shit.  Either figuratively usually in regards to tall tales of questionable exploits, of literally in cases of constipation/obstipation.

Frequent Flyer: a person who frequently is admitted to the ED/hospital.

Gomer: Get Out Of My ER.


Go-Lyetly:  a bowel prep.  You drink the full gallon and poop for hours to clear your colon prior to a colonscopy.

H/H: hemoglobin and hematocrit.  How much blood you have.

Lactate: measurement of lactic acid produced by anaerobic metabolism.  Usually seen in sepsis where it is elevated as there is not enough oxygen being delivered to the tissues for them to function aerobically.


PEA:  pulse-less electrical activity.  A Bad Thing, no pulse = dead.

PIA/PITA:  Pain in (the) Ass.  Can be a patient, but more often the patient’s  family.

Seeker:  see Drug Seeker

Sumdood:  mythical troublemaker, his handiwork is usually seen in EDs around the country.  Nurse: “Who did this to you?”  Patient with stab wound to his abdomen, “Oh it was just Sumdood – I was minding my own business…”


‘Tern:  Intern.  First-year medical resident.

Triple F:  female, fat and forty; classic presenters for gall bladder issues.

Unit, the:  the Intensive Care Unit.  As in, “We’re transferring the crashing patient to the Unit.”

Versed-itis: odd, sometimes insane behavior in normally sane and calm people as an adverse reaction to Versed.

VF, VFib:  ventricular fibrillation.  A Bad Thing.

VT, V-Tach:  ventricular tachycardia.  Another Bad Thing.

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