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Common Abbreviations for Medical ID Bracelets

22nd Apr 2024

What Is a Medical Abbreviation?

There is a long tradition of abbreviations in medicine and many of these abbreviations have become commonplace in everyday life: for example, DVT for deep vein thrombosis, and TIA for transient ischaemic attack. When used correctly, medical abbreviations can assist in rapidly communicating essential medical information to help ensure appropriate treatment in the event of an emergency.

Medical ID bracelets often include common abbreviations such as DNR (do not resuscitate) and ICE (in case of emergency) before an emergency contact number all of which can help to identify an individual’s immediate medical needs for emergency treatment.

Do You Have To Use Abbreviations?

It is entirely your choice whether to use abbreviations on medical alert bracelets and wristbands. Using abbreviations does help to maximise the amount of vital information you can communicate on your emergency medical ID, but you can also choose a medical alert bracelet with plenty of room for engraving or you can include additional information on a medical alert card. If you do opt for a medical alert card, we recommend having “See medical card” engraved on the front of your medical ID.

Remember, more isn’t always better. Just because there are common abbreviations for all of your information does not mean you need to use them all. When space allows, spelling things out while using abbreviations strategically will help to create context and make your medical ID easier to understand.

When Should You Use Medical Abbreviations?

We recommend that you should only use abbreviations when it is essential to do so and to bear in mind the importance of using common medical abbreviations that are widely recognised. Our advice is based on the following:

  • It may not be a medical professional who reads the engraving first – it may be a member of the public calling an ambulance or a community first responder;
  • Healthcare staff sometimes use the same abbreviations to mean different things leaving you open to a risk of misinterpretation of an abbreviation. For example, BP can mean blood pressure and bipolar disorder;
  • Medical abbreviations vary internationally;
  • Some abbreviations are highly specialised and not understood by the wider medical community. For example, if the medical alert bracelet is for a sufferer of a rare disease such as Congenital Central Hypoventilation Syndrome (CCHS), consider spelling out the condition in full and including emergency advice: Central Congenital Hypoventilation Syndrome, Does not breathe when asleep or unconscious, Needs ventilation.

It is important to think about any medical abbreviations you intend to use and, if necessary, to add some context to them. For example, high BP or low BP rather than just BP communicate information about your blood pressure.

It’s also important to remember that more isn’t always better. Your medical alert bracelet should show the information that is vital to inform your treatment in the event of an emergency rather than your entire medical history.

When space allows, providing fully spelt-out information will help to create context and make your emergency medical ID easier to understand.

We recommend consulting your doctor or a member of your medical team when deciding what to engrave on a medical ID bracelet. In the event that this is not possible, we have taken advice from the lovely doctors at Concierge Medical (the multi-award-winning private GP service for the Cotswolds and surrounding areas) for what to engrave for specific medical conditions.

Most Common Medical Abbreviations

Below is a list of the most common medical abbreviations.

Long form Abbreviation
Advance decision to refuse treatment ADRT
Alzheimer's disease AD
Atrial fibrillation A-Fib or AF
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder ADHD
Bipolar disorder BP
Blood pressure BP (context needed)
Cerebral venous sinus thrombosis CVST
Chronic kidney disease CKD
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease COPD
Congenital adrenal hyperplasia CAH
Congestive heart failure CHF
Coronary artery disease CAD
Coronary heart disease CHD
Deep vein thrombosis DVT
Do not attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation    DNACPR
Do not resuscitate Do not resuscitate
Ehlers-Danlos syndrome EDS
Epinephrine EPI
Epinephrine pen EPIPEN
Implantable cardioverter defibrillator ICD
Implantable loop recorder ILR
In case of emergency ICE
Intravenous IV
Left LT
Left ventricle LV
Myasthenia gravis M.GRAVIS
Post traumatic stress disorder PTSD
Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome POTS
Right RT
Right ventricle RV
Transplant TX (context needed)
Type 1 diabetes T1 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes T2 diabetes

Are You Looking to Order a Medical ID Bracelet?

If you’re looking for a medical alert bracelet or wristband you can browse our full range of medical alert bracelets. Choose from a wide range of materials and styles, from supersoft silicone wristbands to traditional stainless steel link bracelets, from stylish leather bracelets to super lightweight carbon fibre, and from everyday wear to elegant choices for that more sophisticated look, you’re sure to find a style and size to suit you.

The majority of our medical ID bracelets can be personalised with your important medical information. If bracelets and wristbands aren’t your thing, we also offer a range of personalisable medical ID  pendants and dog tags