What does per mean in medical terms?

Are you puzzled by the medical jargon that doctors use? Well, worry no more because today we are going to discuss what “per” means in medical terms. This seemingly small prefix can hold quite a lot of importance when it comes to understanding certain medical phrases and abbreviations.

Defining “Per”

Let’s start with the basics – the definition of “per.” The word per is actually Latin for ‘by,’ ‘through’ or ‘for each.’ In medicine, it is often used as a prefix before units of measure such as minute, hour or pound. When used like this, it indicates a ratio between two measurements.

The Common Usages

  • Per Minute
    One common usage of “per” in the medical field is “per minute”. It denotes how many times something occurs within one minute. For example, heartbeats per minute or breaths per minute.

Why is knowing about beats important? You might ask. That’s an easy one! Knowing how fast someone’s heart rate is beating can indicate whether there might be some underlying health problems they need to look into.

  • Per Hour
    Another common usage we find frequently in aftercare instructions: How much medication should I take? When should I take it again after six hours have passed?
    It’s usually dosed relative to body weight eg mg/kg/hour) and since every human has slightly different metabolic efficiency using per-hour-rates rather than fixed doses ensures people receive medications tailored specifically for them.

-###‘Per kg’
Medications will not affect all weights equally so drugs administered “mg/kg h”, meaning milligrams per kilogramme bodyweight over hours; enables caregivers at ICU settings giving individual drug doses fitted solely based on patient mass which best suit them avoiding risking chances for any unhealthy side-effects consequent from wrong math calculations.

Before you get even more confused about the math and science involved in calculating medication for pounds, kilograms or molar per hour rate; simply remember that the dosage of every medicine is determined by individual body weight. In other words, it’s based on your uniqueness!

  • Per Capita

Per capita- quite self-explanatory refers to a statistic measured relative to the size of an specific population group being evaluated. Example –“Number of people infected with Covid – 19 per capita” helps gauge which geographical region has a higher ratio of infections compared to another area. Also used when calculating health expenditure and various public policies benefiting overall health.


We hope this article helped clarify for you what “per” means in medical terms!. Next time appearing bewildered while listening doctors dishing out complicated numbers, – rest assured knowing exactly what they mean!

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