AMA Journal of Ethics®

Illuminating the art of medicine

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AMA Journal of Ethics®

Illuminating the art of medicine

Virtual Mentor. July 2001, Volume 3, Number 7.

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Use and Meaning of Medical Acronyms

Little-known trivia about medical acronyms and how their meaning can vary based on context.

Audiey Kao, MD, PhD

  • AMA stands for anti-mitochondrial antibodies. In addition, AMA stands for against medical advice, so the meaning of the acronym depends on the context of usage.
  • CREST is an acronym that stands for calcinosis, Reynaud's phenomenon, esophageal motility disorders, sclerodactyly, and telangiectasia. CREST is often associated with other diseases such as primary biliary cirrhosis in which a circulating IgG AMA is detected in 90 percent of cases.
  • TID is the Latin abbreviation for ter in die which means three times a day, and is used when prescribing medication. It is important to note that TID is not the same as every 8 hours, so physicians should be clear when writing prescriptions how frequently they intend their patients to take the prescribed drug.
  • ICD-10 stands for International Classification of Diseases 10th Revision. ICD is the classification used to code and classify mortality data from death certificates compiled by the National Center for Health Statistics. It is designed to promote international comparability in the collection, processing, classification, and presentation of mortality statistics.
  • CPT stands for Current Procedural Terminology. Developed by the American Medical Association in 1966, CPT (based on a 5 digit numeric identifier) is a system for accurately coding medical, surgical, and diagnostic services, and is widely accepted as the nomenclature for the reporting of medical services under public and private health insurance programs. The current version of CPT contains nearly 8,000 codes and descriptors.
  • ERCP stands for endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancratography. The CPT 2001 code for diagnosing ERCP, with or without collection of specimen(s) by brushing or washing is 43260. If a gastroenterologist performs a biopsy then the code is 43261; if a sphincterotomy/papillotomy is performed, the code is 43262.
  • SSSS stands for staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome. The acute phase begins with an erythematous rash originating periorbitally and periorally, that then extends to the trunk and limbs. Within hours or days, sloughing of the skin occurs which can be provoked by gentle stroking of the epidermis (Nikolsky's sign), even in areas that apprear unaffected. Mortality usually from hypovolemia or sepsis is about 3 percent among children but can reach 50 percent among adults [1-3].
  • SSS stands for sick sinus syndrome. SSS refers to a combination of symptoms (dizziness, confusion, fatigue, syncope, and congestive heart failure) caused by sinus node dysfunction and manifested by marked sinus bradycardia, sinoatrial block, or sinus arrest. This bradycardia is difficult to diagnosis because the symptoms are nonspecific and the ECG changes are frequently intermittent [4,5].
  • GOMER stands for get out of my emergency room, and is an acronym whose use should be abandoned.


References

  1. Cribier B, Piemont Y, Grosshans E. Staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome in adults. A clinical review illustrated with a new case. J Am Acad Dermatol. 1994;30:319-324.
  2. Ladhani S, Evans RW. Staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome. Arch Dis Child. 1998;78:85-88.
  3. Ladhani S, Joannou CL, Lochrie DP, Evans RW, Poston SM. Clinical, microbial, and biochemical aspects of the exfoliative toxins causing staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome. Clin Microbiol Rev. 1999;12:224-242.
  4. Colquhoun M. When should you suspect sick sinus syndrome? Practitioner. 1999;243:422-425.
  5. Mangrum JM, DiMarco JP. The evaluation and management of bradycardia. N Engl J Med. 2000;342:703-709.

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