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Phlebotomist Abbreviation: Mastering the Language of Blood Draws

This comprehensive guide dives deep into the world of phlebotomist abbreviations, empowering you to navigate blood draw procedures with confidence. Phlebotomist abbreviation knowledge is essential for both aspiring and experienced phlebotomists, ensuring clear communication and accurate blood sample collection.

Key Takeaways
Phlebotomist abbreviations are a shorthand way for healthcare professionals to communicate during blood draw procedures.
Understanding these abbreviations is vital for both aspiring and experienced phlebotomists to ensure clear communication and accurate blood sample collection.
Common phlebotomist abbreviations include CBC (Complete Blood Count), Hgb (Hemoglobin), and PT (Prothrombin Time).
Blood collection tube types also have corresponding abbreviations, such as SST (Serum Separation Tube) and EDTA (EthyleneDiamineTetraacetic Acid).
Regularly practicing and utilizing various resources will solidify your understanding of phlebotomist abbreviations.

Why Phlebotomist Abbreviations Matter

Phlebotomist abbreviations are a shorthand way for healthcare professionals to communicate vital information about blood draws. Understanding these abbreviations streamlines communication within the medical field, reduces errors, and ensures efficient blood sample collection. The following are some important uses for this guide:

  • Phlebotomy Students: Mastering these abbreviations paves the way for success on phlebotomy certification exams.
  • Working Phlebotomists: Having a strong understanding of phlebotomy abbreviations enhances communication with colleagues and ensures accurate blood sample handling.
  • Anyone Interested in Blood Draws: This guide provides valuable insight into the language used during blood draws.

Understanding the Structure of Phlebotomist Abbreviations

Phlebotomist abbreviations can take various forms, including:

  • Initialisms: Formed by using the first letter of each word in a phrase (e.g., CBC – Complete Blood Count).
  • Acronyms: Similar to initialisms, but pronounced as a word (e.g., HIV – Human Immunodeficiency Virus).
  • Shortened terms: Abbreviated versions of medical terms (e.g., Hgb – Hemoglobin).
  • Alphabetic codes: Letters assigned specific meanings (e.g., K+ – Potassium).

Mastering Common Phlebotomist Abbreviations 

This section provides a comprehensive list of commonly encountered phlebotomist abbreviations, categorized alphabetically for ease of reference. Each abbreviation includes a clear definition and a brief explanation of its significance in phlebotomy.

Abbreviation Meaning Explanation
ABG Arterial Blood Gas A test measuring blood oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, crucial for assessing respiratory function.
ABO Bloodtyping Determines your blood type (A, B, AB, or O), essential for safe blood transfusions.
ACD Acid Citrate Dextrose An anticoagulant solution used in blood collection tubes to prevent clotting.
AED Automated External Defibrillator A portable device that analyzes heart rhythm and delivers electrical shocks, if needed, to restore a normal rhythm.
AIDS Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome The advanced stage of HIV infection, impacting the immune system.
APTT Activated Partial Thromboplastin Time A blood clotting test used to monitor blood thinners.
ASAP As Soon Possible Emphasizes urgency in completing a task.
AVF Arteriovenous Fistula An abnormal connection between an artery and a vein, sometimes used for dialysis access.
AVS Arteriovenous Shunt Similar to AVF, an abnormal connection between an artery and a vein, used for dialysis or blood flow maintenance.
BBP Blood-Borne Pathogen Viruses or bacteria transmitted through blood contact.
BC or B/C Blood Culture A test to detect bacteria or fungi in the bloodstream by culturing a blood sample.
BIL Bilirubin A brownish-yellow pigment found in bile, elevated levels can indicate liver problems.
BT Bleeding Time A test that measures how long it takes for a small cut to stop bleeding, assessing platelet function.
BUN Blood Urea Nitrogen A waste product filtered by the kidneys, abnormal levels can indicate kidney dysfunction.
Ca Calcium A mineral essential for bone health and muscle function.
CBC Complete Blood Count A comprehensive blood test analyzing red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, and other parameters.
CHOL Cholesterol A fatty substance in the blood, high levels can contribute to heart disease.
CK Creatine Kinase An enzyme found in muscles, elevated levels can indicate muscle damage.
Diff Differential White Count A breakdown of the different types of white blood cells.
DNAR Do Not Attempt Resuscitation A medical order indicating no CPR should be performed in case of cardiac arrest.
DNR Do Not Resuscitate Same as DNAR, a medical order to withhold CPR efforts.
ECG (EKG) Electrocardiogram Records the electrical activity of the heart, used to diagnose heart conditions.
EDTA EthyleneDiamineTetraacetic Acid An anticoagulant used in some blood collection tubes to prevent clotting.
ESR Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate A test that measures how quickly red blood cells settle at the bottom of a test tube, used to assess inflammation.
EST Evacuated Tube System The most common method for blood collection, utilizing tubes with a vacuum for blood draw.
ETOH Ethanol Alcohol, measured in blood tests to assess intoxication or alcohol-related conditions.
FDP Fibrin Degradation Product Breakdown products of fibrin, a protein involved in blood clotting, can indicate ongoing clotting or bleeding.
Fe Iron A mineral essential for oxygen transport in the blood.
FUO Fever of Unknown Origin A fever without a readily identifiable cause.
GTT Glucose Tolerance Test Measures how your body processes sugar (glucose).
Hct Hematocrit The percentage of red blood cells in whole blood.
HDL High-Density Lipoprotein Often referred to as “good cholesterol,” helps remove LDL cholesterol from the arteries.
Hgb Hemoglobin The iron-containing protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen.
HIV Human Immunodeficiency Virus The virus that causes AIDS.
LDL Low-Density Lipoprotein Often referred to as “bad cholesterol,” can build up in arteries and contribute to heart disease.
LH Leutinizing Hormone A hormone involved in ovulation and testosterone production.

Understanding Blood Collection Tube Types 

Phlebotomist abbreviations frequently reference various blood collection tube types. Each tube contains specific additives to preserve the blood sample for different tests. Here’s a breakdown of some common blood collection tubes and their corresponding abbreviations:

  • SST (Serum Separation Tube): Clot activator separates blood into red blood cells and serum (the liquid portion).
  • PST (Plasma Separation Tube): Similar to SST, but with an anticoagulant to prevent clotting and separate blood into red blood cells and plasma.
  • EDTA Tube: Contains EDTA as an anticoagulant for tests requiring whole blood or specific blood cell analysis.
  • Heparin Tube: Uses heparin as an anticoagulant for tests requiring plasma, such as blood gas analysis.
  • Sodium Citrate Tube: Contains sodium citrate as an anticoagulant for tests requiring whole blood or plasma, often used for coagulation studies.

Phlebotomy Abbreviations Beyond the Basics 

While the core set of phlebotomist abbreviations is crucial, you may encounter additional ones depending on your specific workplace or area of practice. Here are some examples:

Abbreviation Meaning Explanation
NPO Nil Per Os Latin for “nothing by mouth,” instructs a patient to fast before a blood draw.
PICC Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter A thin, flexible tube inserted into a vein in the arm for long-term blood draws or medication administration.
PKU Phenylketonuria A rare genetic disorder affecting how the body processes the amino acid phenylalanine.
Plt (PLT) Platelets Blood components involved in clotting.
POCT Point of Care Testing Diagnostic testing performed at the patient’s bedside or near the site of care, providing faster results.
PP Post Prandial Refers to blood drawn after a meal.
PSA Prostate Specific Antigen A protein produced by the prostate gland, elevated levels may indicate prostate cancer.
PT Prothrombin Time A blood clotting test measured in seconds, used to assess blood clotting time.
QNS Quantity Not Sufficient Indicates there is not enough blood in the collection tube for testing.
RBC Red Blood Cells Cells that transport oxygen throughout the body.
TDM Therapeutic Drug Monitoring Measures the level of prescribed medications in the bloodstream.
TRIG Triglycerides A type of fat found in the blood, high levels can contribute to heart disease.
TSH Thyroid Stimulating Hormone A hormone produced by the pituitary gland that regulates thyroid function.
WBC White Blood Cells Cells that defend the body against infection.
XDP Serum Crosslinked Fibrin A specialized blood collection tube used for specific coagulation testing.


Enhancing Your Phlebotomy Abbreviations Knowledge 

Here are some tips to solidify your understanding of phlebotomist abbreviations:

  • Flashcard Apps: Utilize phlebotomy abbreviation flashcard apps to test yourself and reinforce memorization.
  • Online Resources: Explore reputable online phlebotomy resources that provide comprehensive abbreviation lists and explanations.
  • Textbooks: Refer to your phlebotomy textbook’s glossary section for a reference guide.
  • Workplace Mentorship: Seek guidance from experienced phlebotomists in your workplace to clarify any unfamiliar abbreviations.


Phlebotomist abbreviations are an essential part of efficient communication and accurate blood draw procedures. By mastering this terminology, you’ll navigate the world of phlebotomy with confidence, ensuring optimal patient care. Remember, consistent practice and utilizing the resources mentioned above will solidify your understanding and propel you towards phlebotomy success.


Why are phlebotomist abbreviations important?

Phlebotomist abbreviations streamline communication, reduce errors, and ensure efficient blood sample collection.

Where can I find a complete list of phlebotomist abbreviations?

This guide provides a comprehensive list of common phlebotomist abbreviations. Additionally, phlebotomy textbooks and online resources offer extensive abbreviation lists.

What are some resources to help me learn phlebotomist abbreviations?

Utilize phlebotomy abbreviation flashcard apps, explore reputable online resources, refer to your phlebotomy textbook’s glossary, and seek guidance from experienced phlebotomists.

Is there a difference between SST and PST blood collection tubes?

Both are used for serum separation, but SST contains a clot activator, while PST uses an anticoagulant to prevent clotting.

What does NPO (Nil Per Os) mean?

NPO instructs a patient to fast before a blood draw.


The information provided in this guide serves as a general educational resource and should not be solely relied upon for clinical practice. Always refer to your phlebotomy textbook, institutional protocols, and relevant healthcare guidelines for the most up-to-date and accurate information.

We hope this comprehensive guide empowers you to conquer the world of phlebotomist abbreviations!

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