Safety Stock

A quantity of stock planned to be in inventory to protect against fluctuations in demand and/or supply.

San José Medical Group

Part of the UniHealth IHS. The San José Medical Group is made up of about 800 physicians; they cover about 125,000 lives (ca., late 1996).

Santa Clara County IPA

This IPA is made up of about 450 physicians, covering about 63,000 lives (circa late 1996).


Prescription. See Rx.


Special Care Unit.

Self-Assesments Tools

This refers to a corporate entity or individual who acts on its own behalf and in its own interest and to carry out a purpose other than that for which the individual accessed the consumer health web site.
[Source: Hi-Ethics CoalitionExternal Page Policy 
(click to see policy and instructions)]

Self-funded Employers

Employers (usually large businesses) that choose to manage their own healthcare plans rather than signing up with an insurance carrier. These sefl-insured corporations carry the risk, although they usually contract with a third-party to administer the plan(s).


An individual or organization that assumes all or some of the financial risk of paying healthcare. A self-insured organization usually contracts the administration tasks to a TPA.

Service Agreement

Also called the Evidence of Coverage and Health Service Agreement, this is the official plan contract. It explains in full all the terms of plan coverage, including benefits, copayments, how to access coverage, and the planís exclusions and limitations.

Service Path

A clinical assessment and treatment which models what happened to a patient during a specific course of treatment and why.


SESAM-Vitale is a smart card-based system (in France) to link patients, healthcare providers and insurance carriers. The system is made up of two components,
  SESAM Système Electronique de Saisie de l’Assurance Maladie — the French system for electronic capture of health claim data. Vitale Smart Card External Page Policy 
(click to see policy and instructions)
  Vitale The smart card itself
The Vitale smart card replaces paper health insurance cards. Each of the parties involved gains from the use of the card,
Healthcare providers get automatically updated charts, and electronic prescriptions,
Payors get all the information necessary for reimbursement (i.e., immediate adjudication),
Patients get all their medical information stored in their card.
The combination of health and insurance information produces significant benefits, among them,
the simplification and automation of administrative support,
more rapid and guaranteed reimbursement for healthcare providers.
The card holds several pieces of information,
Patient Identification the card provides trusted demographic information
Insurance Plan Information the card certifies the insurance plan benefits (e.g., allowed procedures, prescriptions)
Medical Record Information the card lists a patient's chart information (to authorized healthcare providers)
The Vitale card is not used for payment. Rather, it facilitates the secure electronic exchange of medical data, specifically chart information and prescription data.
Surprisingly, similar efforts in the US have been piloted by banks. For example, Imperial Bank has announced a dental insurance card that includes credit/debit co-pay, eligibility and benefits on one card.


A chart notation reserved for the less endearing inpatients. Stands for “Ship His Ass” outta here.

Short-Term Disability

An injury or illness that keeps a person from working for a short time. The terms of short-term disability, including the length of time covered, differs among insurance companies and employers.


Seriously ill. See VSI


Society for Infectious Diseases PharmacistsExternal Page Policy 
(click to see policy and instructions).


In a prescription, the SIG is the instructions to the patient on how to take the prescription. The SIG usually specifies frequency, route of administration, and any special instructions. For example, “1 PO Q4H PC” is interpreted as,
SIG   Meaning
1 …
Take one dose …
PO …
By mouth …
Q4H …
Every four hours …
PC …
After meals.
Usually, it is the job of the pharmacist to translate these codes to a human-readable description that is then printed on the label that goes on the prescription.
Not coincidentally, “SIG” is the abbreviation of the latin word signa, meaning “label”.
Many of these SIG codes come from the initials of the equivalent Latin (e.g., ‘AS’ from Auris Sinestro or left ear). The table below is only a small sampling of SIG codes,
SIG Meaning   SIG Meaning   SIG Meaning
A Applicatorful GT Drop QH Every hour
AAA Apply to affected area GTT Drop(s) Q(#)H Every (#) hours
AC Before meals H Hour QHS At every bedtime
AD Right ear H2O Water QID Four times a day
AGIT Shake HS At bedtime QOD Every other day
AM In the morning Hx History QS Quantity sufficient
AMT Amount IM Intramuscular REC Rectally
ANTE Before IV Intravenous R/O Rule out
AS Left ear LIQ Liquid Rx Prescription
ASA Aspirin MDI Meter dose inhaler S Without
AU Both ears MG Milligram S Suppository
AQ Water ML Milliliter SL Sublingual
BID Twice a day MOM Milk of magnesia SOB Shortness of breath
BP Blood Pressure NAUS Nausea SOL Solution
C With NEG Negative SP Spray
CBC Complete NKA No known allergies SPS Sprays
C/O Complaint of NKDA No known drug allergies SQ Subcutaneous
D Day(s) NOW Now, then SS One-half
D/C Discontinue NPO Nothing per mouth (oral) Stat Immediately
DIAG Diagnosis OD Right eye T Tablet(s)
Dx Diagnosis OINT Ointment TABS Tablets
DIL Dilute OS Left eye TBSP Tablespoon
DISCH Discharge OL Left eye TEMP Temperature
DR Draim OU Both eyes (Each eye) TID Three times a day
EN Each nostril P Puff TSP Teaspoon(s)ful
ET And PAIN Pain UD As directed
ETOH Alcohol PC After meals UG Until gone
Exp Expired PM Afternoon UNG Ointment
FBS Fasting Blood Sugar PO By mouth (orally) VAG Vaginally
FL Fluid PRN As needed VOL Volume
GM Gram Q Every VS Vital signs
GR Grain QD Every day WF With food


A Stock Keeping Unit is a shipping unit which (usually) includes multiple NDC packages. Same as Wholesaler Unit.

Smart Card

Smart cards are credit card-size cards with a computer and memory in them. Their primary value is in secure identification of its carrier. The cards are defined by the ISOExternal Page Policy 
(click to see policy and instructions)7816 standard, made up of the following components,
ISO/IEC DIS 7816-1External Page Policy 
(click to see policy and instructions) Physical characteristics (Revision of ISO 7816-1:1987)
ISO/IEC DIS 7816-2External Page Policy 
(click to see policy and instructions) Part 2: Dimensions and location of the contacts (Revision of ISO 7816-2:1988)
ISO/IEC DIS 7816-3External Page Policy 
(click to see policy and instructions) Part 3: Electronic signals and transmission protocols (Revision of ISO 7816-3:1989)
ISO/IEC 7816-4:1995External Page Policy 
(click to see policy and instructions) Part 4: Interindustry commands for interchange
ISO/IEC 7816-5:1994External Page Policy 
(click to see policy and instructions) Part 5: Numbering system and registration procedure for application identifiers
ISO/IEC 7816-6:1996External Page Policy 
(click to see policy and instructions) Part 6: Interindustry data elements
ISO/IEC DIS 7816-7External Page Policy 
(click to see policy and instructions) Part 7: Interindustry commands for Structured Card Query Language (SCQL)


Site Management OrganizationExternal Page Policy 
(click to see policy and instructions). This type of business specializes in organizing and managing clinical investigations for the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device industries.


Shared Medical SystemsExternal Page Policy 
(click to see policy and instructions). This company gets its name from the fact that it started life as a "time-shared" system (remember those?), in the days of big, slow iron. These days they offer “clinical products to improve the quality of care, financial systems to increase productivity, management solutions to more fully understand business issues, or a special application from a third party to fill a more specific need.”


Skilled Nursing Facility. See ECF and LTCF.

SOAP Notes

The universal format for medical progress notes. An acronym for Subjective Objective Assesment Plan. For further detail see www.medicalstudent.netExternal Page Policy 
(click to see policy and instructions).

Social Security Number

The Social Security Number (SSN) “078-05-1120” was printed on “sample” cards during the 1940’s and 1950’s. Most clerks probably don’t recognize it as fake, but it won’t interfere with other social security numbers; the IRS and the SSA (Social Security Administration) do recognize it as a fake.
Another source of fake SSN numbers is advertisements. Ads use numbers in the range 987-65-4320 through 4329.


See Social Security Number.

Staff Model HMO

The Staff Model HMO consists of one of the following,
a group of physicians salaried as employees of a specially formed professional group practice which is an integral part of the HMO plan
physicians who are salaried employees of the HMO
Medical services in staff models are delivered at HMO-owned health centers, and only to HMO members. The physicians in either form of staff model usually are limited in their fee-for-services activities.
See Group Model HMO.

State Risk Pools

Individual insurance coverage programs established and funded by the states to provide healthcare coverage for high-risk individuals who, due to a pre-existing health condition or conditions, cannot obtain health insurance coverage through traditional means.

Statistical Inventory Control

The use of statistical techniques to determine inventory levels, establish reordering procedures, etc.

Stock Items

Items that are used by many hospital departments and controlled centrally by the hospitals materials management department. These items are evaluated more on traditional purchasing criteria.

Stock Out

The lack of inventory items which are needed for surgery.

Stocking Location

The physical location where each item in inventory is stored within a site.


A brand name for a hospital lab system.

Supply Requisitions

The surgery department’s document used to formalize a purchase transaction with a vendor. It contains items to be purchased, quantities and prices. Also known as a Purchase Order.


Sorry, not what you thought. This really is a short hand for “symptoms.” See also, Dx, Fx, Hx, Mx, Px, Rx, Tx.