What Does The USOH Medical Abbreviation Mean?

Every now and then, we find doctors and health workers using weird phrases and abbreviations without knowing what they mean. This post is focused on the USOH medical abbreviation; it’s meaning when and why it is used.

It is good if you note that medical abbreviations are used by doctors and health workers as a means of communication, not to confuse non-medical persons as widely misconceived but to make their work faster and easier.

What Is The USOH Medical Term?

The USOH medical abbreviation stands for the Usual State of Health.

The concept of health is one of the most widely misunderstood especially among medical students who just entered the clinical classes.

According to the World Health Organization, Health is defined as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity.

What Is The Meaning Of Usual State Of Health?

USOH medical abbreviation
What is USOH medical term?

It is very common while presenting the history of a patient’s illness to say something like;

He was in his usual state of health until a week ago when he developed fever and breathlessness of “X” duration.

For the above example, this type of statement is used to describe a patient with an already known medical condition usually of a chronic character, who was doing fairly well without any obvious symptoms until a week ago when he started having fever and breathlessness.

In some cases, the index patient will usually not have any symptoms if they are compliant with their routine medications. The cause of the new symptoms will most likely be as a result of another cause, and not from the already existing morbidity.

For other cases, it could be as a result of acute exacerbation of the already existing condition or illness as seen in acute exacerbation of bronchial asthma.

Examples of Diseases Where The USOH Medical Abbreviation Can Be Used:

The medical term usual state of health can only be used for patients who are known to have pre-existing morbidities but who are not manifesting any new symptoms until the onset of the current symptoms for which they have now presented to a hospital. Some examples of Usual State of Health Include;

  • A patient who is known to have Sickle cell disease
  • A patient already diagnosed with Diabetes Mellitus
  • A patient with a history of hypertension
  • Patient with a known history of Asthma
  • Cancer patients
  • Patients with heart diseases
  • Patients who have Arthritis
  • Patients with Alzheimer’s disease
  • Patients with dementia
  • Patients with Lyme’s disease
  • Patients with auto-immune diseases like SLE, etc.

Patients In Usual State Of Health Vs Apparently Well Patients

Because of how complex it is to describe the different states of health, it is very common to find some medical students misplacing the medical term; usual state of health with apparently well. But they are very different concepts.

The medical term apparently well is used to describe a condition in which an index patient was living their normal life without obvious signs or symptoms of disease or infirmity.

It is important to note from the WHO definition of health, that just because someone has no obvious signs or symptoms of diseases does not necessarily mean that they are in good health. But we still say that such persons are apparently well because their illnesses are not yet so severe to affect their normal daily lives.

For instance, you can say;

The patient was apparently well until a week ago when he started vomiting yellowish substances which were copious and composed mainly of freshly eaten food.

The above statement suggests that this index patient is not known to have any co-morbidities or underlying medical condition(s) prior to the onset of the vomiting.

Difference between the USOH medical abbreviation and apparently well

So the difference between the USOH medical abbreviation and the medical term apparently well is that while the usual state of health is used for patients with pre-existing medical conditions, apparently well on the other hand is used for a patient who has been alive and well without any known co-morbidities.

Playing It Safe

There are lots of issues on how best a patient’s history should be presented. And these controversies have given rise to different schools of thought.

Some schools of thought believe that it is safer to present the history of a patient’s illness by announcing the symptom upfront from the history of presenting the complaint. That will sound something like;

The fever started a week ago in the evening just after he returned from work….and then going on to characterize the fever and then doing the same for the rest of the symptoms in chronological order.

Now, this looks good because you will still get an overview of the patient’s past medical history in the course of the history. But some others believe it is best to state the patient’s state of health before the onset of the symptoms which is perfect.

However, it is your duty as a diligent medical student to find out which one is most acceptable in your school and use it.

Final Thoughts!

The USOH medical abbreviation stands for the Usual State of Health and is used for patients who have a pre-existing medical condition before the onset of a new symptom that caused them to present to their physician.

On the other hand, a person is said to be apparently well when there are no obvious signs or symptoms of illness. This, according to the WHO definition of health does not necessarily mean that the person is healthy. It only means that the illness is not yet severe enough to manifest itself in the patient.

In the course of presenting the history of a patient’s illness in a teaching hospital setting, it is advisable to find out what medical terms are most accepted in your medical school and adapt to using them.


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