Is there a word or phrase which encompasses things like a heartbeat recording, x-ray scan, EKG output, a record of blood oxygen levels from a pulse oximeter etc.

What name would you give to data about a person's illnesses, ailments, diseases and medical condition? is too broad. I'm looking for something which would apply to each item, like record or datum.

  • An observation is the only term that I can think of.
    – Mick
    Commented Jul 30, 2020 at 15:44
  • What's wrong with medical data? Aside from it being two words, it has the exact meaning you're looking for, something that won't be captured as precisely by any single word. Commented Jul 30, 2020 at 19:34
  • @JasonBassford It seems to broad to me. If someone were to ask me for my "medical data", I would assume they wanted a collection of things, all my data. What I'm looking for, kind of, is a term of each item in the medical data. Moreover, medical data includes things other than readings, which is more specifically what I'm looking for. I'm leaning towards "reading", but I'm not sure it really applies to a piece of data from, say, a finger prick blood test. Commented Jul 30, 2020 at 19:47
  • 1
    @pondermatic But that's the same thing. If my medical data is composed of 10 items, it's still all medical data. It's simply that there are, if you will, 10 medical datums (yes, that's the other plural of datum). However, your clarification of readings versus data does make sense. You should add that to your question—and change the title of the question. Commented Jul 30, 2020 at 20:54
  • @pondermatic Can you check out my answer? I believe my words match the criteria in both your question and your comment. If they answer your question, please upvote/accept them (as you see fit). Otherwise, please let me know if you need me to clarify anything or look for other words!
    – user392938
    Commented Aug 1, 2020 at 7:00

3 Answers 3



vital sign n. †(a) evidence of viability (obsolete); (b) Medicine a clinical measurement that indicates the state of a patient's essential body functions, spec. pulse rate, respiration rate, blood pressure, or temperature; chiefly in plural.

1951 Science 18 May 581/2 Blood pressure, pulse, color, and other vital signs were within normal limits.

Also figurative:

1993 Lancet 19 June 1586/2 Meanwhile, the repeated postponements and rising arguments over who gets what in a national health plan..have directed attention to the political calendar and the drooping vital signs of the Clinton presidency.


"Reading," "readout/read-out," "measurement," "display," "scan," or "indication" could work (depending on the type of data and machine).


A figure or amount shown by a meter or other measuring instrument. [Lexico]


A visual record or display of the output from a computer or scientific instrument. [Lexico]


The size, length, or amount of something, as established by measuring. [Lexico]


The data shown on a computer screen or other device. [Lexico]


A medical examination using a scanner. [Lexico]


A reading given by a gauge or meter. [Lexico]


One word I haven't seen anyone use is "vitals," but that typically has a connotation of essential, immediate readings, and it's mostly used by medical professionals.

Scans and tests (x-rays, blood tests, brain scans, ultrasounds, etc.) would not fall under the term vital, as they are not immediate, time-sensitive information about the body.

The vital signs (body temperature, pulse rate, respiration rate), along with blood pressure and oxygen saturation would be considered vitals, as they can easily indicate when someone needs immediate attention. I think EKG would also typically be included if someone using the word was speaking more broadly (but generally only in hospitals, as your average doctor doesn't take EKGs unless something is suspected to be wrong).

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