medical prescription meaning / code

medical prescription meaning / code , doctor prescription meaning 

Some common Latin prescription abbreviations include

  1. ac (ante cibum)  – “before meals”
  2. bid (bis in die)  – “twice a day”
  3. gt (gutta)  – “drop”
  4. hs (hora somni)  – “at bedtime”
  5. od (oculus dexter)  – “right eye”
  6. os (oculus sinister)  – “left eye”
  7. po (per os)  – “by mouth”
  8. pc (post cibum)  – “after meals”
  9. prn (pro re nata)  – “as needed”
  10. q3h (quaque 3 hora)  – “every three hours”
  11. qd (quaque die)  – “every day”
  12. qid (quater in die) – “four times a day”
  13. Sig (signa) – “write”
  14. tid (ter in die) – “three times a day”

medical prescription meaning / code

Abbreviation Meaning Notes About Confusion
1/2NS one-half normal saline (0.45%) Normal saline (NS) is 0.9%, so one-half normal saline is 0.45%
5-ASA 5-aminosalicylic acid Can be misinterpreted as five tablets of aspirin (per FDA).Spell out full drug name.
a before  
A.M. morning  
aa of each  
AAA abdominal aortic aneurysm (called a “triple-A”) Can be misinterpreted as ‘apply to affected area’
AAA apply to affected area Can be misinterpreted as ‘abdominal aortic aneurysm’
ac before meals  
achs before meals and at bedtime  
AD right ear  
ad lib freely; as much as desired  
ad sat. to saturation  
ad. to; up to Caution not to confuse with AD (meaning right ear)
ALT alanine aminotransferase  
alt. alternate  
alt. h. every other hour  
am, A.M. in the morning; before noon  
amp ampule  
amt. amount  
ant. anterior  
ante before  
ap before dinner  
APAP acetaminophen Spell out drug name “acetaminophen”
aPTT activated partial thromboplastin  
AQ, aq water  
a.s., AS left ear  
ASA aspirin Spell out drug name “aspirin”
AST aspartate aminotransferase  
ATC around the clock  
AU each ear; both ears  
AZT zidovudine Can be misinterpreted as azathioprine (per FDA).Spell out drug name.
Ba barium  
BCP birth control pills  
Bi bismuth  
bid, BID twice a day  
BM bowel movement  
BMI body mass index  
bol bolus  
BP blood pressure  
BPH benign prostatic hypertrophy  
BS blood sugar  
BSA body surface area  
BT bedtime In U.S., ‘hs’ or ‘HS’ is more commonly used for bedtime.
c with  
C.C. chief complaint  
c/o complaints of  
C&S culture and sensitivity  
CABG coronary artery bypass graft  
CaCO3 calcium carbonate  
CAD coronary artery disease  
CAP cancer of the prostate Do not confuse with “capsule”
cap. capsule Do not confuse with “cancer of the prostate”
CBC complete blood count  
cc cubic centimeters May be mistaken as u (units) per ISMP.Use mL instead of cc.
CD controlled delivery  
CF cystic fibrosis  
cm centimeter  
CNS central nervous system  
conc concentrated  
CPZ Compazine Can be misinterpreted as chlorpromazine (per FDA).Spell out drug name.
CR controlled-release  
cr, crm cream  
CV cardiovascular  
CXR chest x-ray  
D/C, dc, disc. discontinue OR discharge Multiple possible meanings; spell out instead of using “D/C”
D5/0.9 NaCl 5% dextrose and normal saline solution (0.9% NaCl)  
D5 1/2/NS 5% dextrose and half normal saline solution (0.45% NaCl)  
D5NS dextrose 5% in normal saline (0.9%)  
D5W 5% dextrose in water  
DAW dispense as written  
DBP diastolic blood pressure  
dil. diluted  
disp dispense  
div divide  
DKA diabetic ketoacidosis  
dL deciliter  
DM diabetes mellitus  
DO Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine  
DOB date of birth  
DPT diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus Better to spell out vaccine name; can be misinterpreted as Demerol-Phenergan-Thorazine per FDA
DR delayed-release  
DVT deep vein thrombosis  
DW dextrose in water, diabetes mellitus or distilled water Multiple possible meanings; spell out instead of using “DW”
EC enteric-coated  
EENT Eye, Ear, Nose, and Throat  
elix. elixir  
emuls. emulsion  
ER extended-release Can also mean “emergency room”
ER emergency room Can also mean “extended-release”
ETOH ethyl alcohol  
F Fahrenheit  
f or F female  
FBS fasting blood sugar  
FDA Food and Drug Administration  
Fe Iron  
FFP fresh frozen plasma  
fl or fld fluid  
ft foot  
G, or g, or gm gram “g” is preferred symbol
garg gargle  
GERD gastroesophageal reflux disease  
GI gastrointestinal  
gr. grain Apothecary measurement (obsolete and may be misinterpreted as gram; do not use)
GTT glucose tolerance test Can be confused with gtt for drops
gtt, gtts drop, drops Can be confused with GTT for glucose tolerance test
GU genitourinary  
guttat. drop by drop  
h, or hr. hour  
h/o history of  
H&H hematocrit and hemoglobin  
H2 histamine 2  
H20 water  
HAART highly active antiretroviral therapy  
HCT, or Hct hematocrit  
HCT hydrocortisone Better to spell out drug name; can be misinterpreted as hydrochlorothiazide per FDA
HCTZ hydrochlorothiazide Better to spell out drug name; can be misinterpreted as hydrocortisone per FDA
HR heart rate  
HS half-strength better to spell out; do not mistake for “bedtime”
hs or HS at bedtime, hours of sleep Do not misinterpret as ‘half-strength’
HTN hypertension  
hx history  
IBW ideal body weight  
ID intradermal OR infectious disease Multiple possible meanings; spell out word instead of using “ID”
IJ injection better to spell out ‘injection’
IM intramuscular  
IN intranasal  
inf infusion  
inj. injection  
instill. instillation  
IP intraperitoneal  
IR immediate-release  
IU international unit(s) Mistaken as IV (intravenous) or the number 10 (ten); Instead use “International Unit(s)” (per Joint Commission’s “Do Not Use” List of Abbreviations)
IUD intrauterine device  
IV intravenous  
IVP intravenous push Could be confused with ‘intravenous pyelogram’
IVPB intravenous piggyback  
J joule  
K potassium  
KOH potassium hydroxide  
L or l liter Lowercase letter l may be mistaken as the number 1 (per ISMP). Instead use L (uppercase) for liter.
LA long-acting  
lab laboratory  
lb. pound  
LDL low-density lipoprotein  
LFT liver function tests  
Li lithium  
liq. liquid  
LMP last menstrual period  
lot lotion  
LPN licensed practical nurse  
LR lactated ringer (solution)  
mane in the morning  
mcg or µg microgram Can be misinterpreted to mean “mg” or milligram, better to spell out ‘microgram’
MD medical doctor  
MDI metered-dose inhaler  
mEq milliequivalent  
mEq/L milliequivalent per liter  
Mg magnesium  
mg milligram  
MgSO4 magnesium sulfate May be confused with “MSO4” (morphine sulfate), spell out “magnesium sulfate” – Joint Commission’s “Do Not Use” List of Abbreviations
mL milliliter Do not use ml as lowercase l may be mistaken for the number 1. Use mL (lowercase m, uppercase L) for milliliter (per ISMP).
mm millimeter  
MM or M million May be mistaken as thousand. Use million.
M or K thousand May be mistaken as million. Use thousand.
mm of Hg millimeters of mercury  
mMol millimole  
MMR measle-mumps-rubella (vaccine)  
mol wt molecular weight  
MR modified-release  
MS morphine sulfate or magnesium sulfate Can mean either morphine sulfate or magnesium sulfate, spell out full drug name – Joint Commission’s “Do Not Use” List of Abbreviations
MSO4 morphine sulfate May be confused with “MgSO4”; instead spell out “morphine sulfate” – Joint Commission’s “Do Not Use” List of Abbreviations
n or noct. in the night  
N/A not applicable  
N/V, N&V nausea and vomiting  
Na sodium  
NAS intranasal  
NDC National Drug Code  
Ng or ng nanogram May be mistaken as mg or nasogastric. Use nanogram.
NGT nasogastric tube  
NH3 ammonia  
NKA no known allergies  
NKDA no known drug allergies  
noct. maneq. night and morning  
NP nurse practitioner  
NPO, n.p.o. nothing by mouth Preferred by AMA to spell out “nothing by mouth”
NS normal saline  
NSAID nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug  
NTE not to exceed  
O2 oxygen  
OC oral contraceptive  
o.d., OD right eye Can also mean “overdose” or “once daily”; better to spell out “right eye”
o.d. once per day Preferred in the UK; Can also mean “overdose” or “right eye”; better to spell out “once per day”
OJ orange juice  
o.s., OS left eye  
OTC over-the-counter  
PA Physician Assistant  
pc after meals  
PRN as needed  
PM evening  
PO orally or by mouth May be better to spell out “by mouth” or “orally” (per AMA)
q every  
q4h every 4 hours  
q6h every 6 hours  
q8h every 8 hours  
q12h every 12 hours  
qam every morning  
qd, QD, q.d., Q.D. every day Can be mistaken as q.i.d. Instead write “daily” (per The Joint Commission “Do Not Use List”) or “use daily” per ISMP list
qhs each night at bedtime Can be confused with “qh” (every hour); better to spell out “each night at bedtime”
q.i.d. , QID four times a day  
qod, QOD, q.o.d., or Q.O.D. every other day May be mistaken as qid or QID (four times daily).Write “every other day” (per ISMP and The Joint Commission).
RA rheumatoid arthritis  
Rx prescription  
SA sustained action  
SL, s.l. sublingual (under the tongue)  
SC, SQ sq, or sub q subcutaneous or subcutaneously Use SUBQ (all uppercase) or spell out subcutaneous or subcutaneously
SR sustained release  
STD sexually transmitted disease  
supp suppository  
susp suspension  
syr syrup  
T temperature  
tbsp or Tbsp tablespoon Mistaken as teaspoon(s). Use the metric system (e.g., mL).
TID, t.i.d. three times a day  
top. topical  
TR timed-release  
tsp teaspoon Mistaken as tablespoon(s). Use the metric system (e.g., mL).
U or u unit Mistaken as the number “0” (zero), the number “4” (four) or as “cc”. Write “unit” instead (per The Joint Commission “Do Not Use” List).
ud, ut, dict, UD as directed  
ung ointment  
UTI urinary tract infection  
WBC white blood cell  
XR extended-release  
mcg, µg microgram µg mcg can be misinterpreted as “mg”. Better to spell out “microgram”

doctor prescription meaning

A accommodation; acetum; angström unit; anode; anterior
a artery
a before
A2 aortic second sound
aa of each; arteries
AAA abdominal aortic aneurysm
abd abdominal/abdomen
ABG arterial blood gas
ABI ankle-brachial index
ABO three basic blood groups
AC adrenal cortex; air conduction; alternating current; axiocervical
a.c., ac before a meal
acc. accommodation
A/CA accommodative/convergence accommodation ratio
ACE angiotensin-converting enzyme
ACh acetylcholine
AChE acetylcholinesterase
AChR acetylcholine receptor
ACLS advanced cardiac life support
ACTH adrenocorticotropic hormone
AD advance directive
ad to; up to
ADH antidiuretic hormone
ADHD attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder
ADL, ADLs activities of daily living
ad lib. freely; as desired
admov. apply
ad sat. to saturation
AED antiepileptic drug
AF atrial fibrillation
AFB acid-fast bacillus
AFP alpha-fetoprotein
A/G; A-G ratio albumin/globulin ratio
Ag silver; antigen
AGC atypical glandular cells
AgNO3 silver nitrate
ah hypermetropic astigmatism
AHF antihemophilic factor
AI aortic incompetence; aortic insufficiency
AICD automatic implantable cardiac defibrillator
AIDS acquired immunodeficiency syndrome
AK above the knee
Al aluminum
Alb albumin
ALL acute lymphocytic leukemia
ALP alkaline phosphatase
ALS amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
ALT alanine aminotransferase
alt. dieb. every other day
alt. hor. every other hour
alt. noc. every other night
AM morning
Am mixed astigmatism
a.m.a. against medical advice
AMI acute myocardial infarction
AML acute myelogenous (myeloblastic) leukemia
AMLS Advanced Medical Life Support
amp ampule; amputation
ANA antinuclear antibody
anat anatomy or anatomic
ANNA anti-neuronal nuclear antibody
ANP atrial natriuretic peptide
ant. anterior
anti-CCP anticyclic citrullinated peptide
Ao. aorta
A-P anterior-posterior
A&P auscultation and percussion
ap before dinner
APAP acetaminophen
aPTT activated partial thromboplastin
AQ, aq water
aq. dest. distilled water
aq. frig. cold water
ARC AIDS-related complex
ARDS acute respiratory distress syndrome
ARMD age-related macular degeneration
AS ankylosing spondylitis; aortic stenosis; auris sinistra (left ear)
As. astigmatism
ASA acetylsalicylic acid
ASC atypical squamous cells
asc. ascending
ASCA anti-Saccharomyces cerevisiae antibody
ASC-US atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance
ASCVD atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease
ASD atrial septal defect
AsH hypermetropic astigmatism
AsM myopic astigmatism
AST aspartate aminotransferase
Ast astigmatism
ATCC American Type Culture Collection
at. wt. atomic weight
Au gold
A-V; AV; A/V arteriovenous; atrioventricular
av. avoirdupois
AVM arteriovenous malformation
AVP arginine vasopressin
B boron; bacillus
Ba barium
BAC blood alcohol concentration
BBB blood-brain barrier; bundle branch block
BBT basal body temperature
BCG bacille Calmette-Guérin
BCLS basic cardiac life support
BCP birth control pills
BD Buerger disease
BE barium enema
Be beryllium
BHS beta-hemolytic streptococci
Bi bismuth
b. bone
bib. drink
b.i.d., bid twice a day
b.i.n. twice a night
bipap bilevel positive airway pressure
BK below the knee
BLS basic life support
BM bowel movement
BMI body mass index
BMR basal metabolic rate
BMS bone marrow suppression
BMT bone marrow transplantation
BNP brain natriuretic peptide
bol. pill
BP blood pressure
B.P. British Pharmacopeia
BPH benign prostatic hyperplasia
bpm beats per minute
BRM biologic response modifier
BROW barley, rye, oats, and wheat
BSA body surface area
BSE breast self-examination
BUN blood urea nitrogen
BW birth weight; body weight
Bx biopsy
C Calorie (kilocalorie); Celsius
c calorie (small calorie)
c with
CA coronary artery
ca. about; approximately; cancer
CABG coronary artery bypass graft
CaCO3 calcium carbonate
CAD coronary artery disease
CAH chronic active hepatitis
Cal large calorie
CAP let (the patient) take
cap. capsule
C&S culture and sensitivity
cath catheter
CBC complete blood count
CBI continuous bladder irrigation
CBRNE chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive agents
CBT cognitive behavioral therapy
CC chief complaint
cc cubic centimeter
CCl 4 carbon tetrachloride
CCU coronary care unit; critical care unit
CD4 T-helper cells
CD8 cytotoxic cells
CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
CEA carcinoembryonic antigen
CF cystic fibrosis; Christmas factor
CFTR cystic fibrosis transmembrane regulator
cg centigram
CHD congenital heart disease; coronary heart disease
ChE cholinesterase
CHF congestive heart failure
CI cardiac index
Ci curie
CIN cervical intraepithelial neoplasia
CIS carcinoma in situ
CK creatine kinase
CK-MB serum creatine kinase, myocardial-bound
Cl chlorine
CLL chronic lymphocytic leukemia
cm centimeter
c.m.s. to be taken tomorrow morning
CMT certified medication technician
CMV cytomegalovirus
c.n. tomorrow night
CNS central nervous system
c.n.s. to be taken tomorrow night
CO carbon monoxide; cardiac output
CO2 carbon dioxide
Co cobalt
c/o complains of
COLD chronic obstructive lung disease
comp. compound; compounded of
COMT catechol-O-methyltransferase
COPD chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
COX-2 cyclooxygenase 2 inhibitors
CP cerebral palsy; cleft palate
CPAP continuous positive airway pressure
CPC clinicopathologic conference
CPD cephalopelvic disproportion
CPHSS Cincinnati Prehospital Stroke Scale
CPK creatine phosphokinase
CPM continuous passive motion
CPR cardiopulmonary resuscitation
CR conditioned reflex; controlled release; crown-rump length
CREST calcinosis, Raynaud phenomenon, esophageal dysfunction, sclerodactyly, telangiectasia (cluster of features of systemic sclerosis scleroderma)
CRP c. reactive protein
CRS-R Conners Rating Scales-Revised
CS cardiogenic shock; cesarean section; culture and sensitivity
CSF cerebrospinal fluid; colony-stimulating factor
CSH combat support hospital
CT computed/computerized tomography
Cu copper
CV cardiovascular
CVA cardiovascular accident; cerebrovascular accident; costovertebral angle
CVC central venous catheter
CVP central venous pressure
CVRB critical value read back
CVS chorionic villi sampling
CXR chest x-ray
D diopter; dose
D5/0.9 NaCl 5% dextrose and normal saline solution (0.9% NaCl)
D5/½ /NS 5% dextrose and half-normal saline solution (0.45% NaCl)
D5W 5% dextrose in water
d density; right
/d per day
D and C dilatation and curettage
dB decibel
DBP diastolic blood pressure
DC direct current; doctor of chiropractic
dc discontinue
Derm dermatology
det. let it be given
DEXA dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry
DFV Doppler flow velocimetry
DHT dihydrotestosterone
DI diabetes insipidus
DIC disseminated intravascular coagulation
dieb. alt. every other day
dieb. tert. every third day
dil. dilute; diluted
dim. halved
DISIDA (scan) diisopropyl iminodiacetic acid (cholescintigraphy)
DJD degenerative joint disease
DKA diabetic ketoacidosis
dL deciliter
DM diabetes mellitus
DMARD disease-modulating antirheumatic drug
DNA deoxyribonucleic acid
DNH do not hospitalize
DNR do not resuscitate
DOA dead on arrival
DOB date of birth
DOE dyspnea on exertion
DPat diphtheria-acellular pertussis tetanus (vaccine)
DPT diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus (vaccine)
dr. dram
DRE digital rectal examination
DRG diagnosis-related group
DSM-IV-TR Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition, Text Revision
DTR deep tendon reflex(es)
DTs delirium tremens
dur. dolor while pain lasts
DVT deep vein thrombosis
Dx diagnosis
D5W dextrose 5% in water
DWI driving while intoxicated
E eye; Escherichia
EBV Epstein-Barr virus
ECF extended care facility; extracellular fluid
ECG electrocardiogram, electrocardiograph
ECHO echocardiography
ECMO extracorporeal membrane oxygenation
ECT electroconvulsive therapy
ED emergency department; effective dose; erythema dose; erectile dysfunction
EDD estimated date of delivery (formerly EDC: estimated date of confinement)
EEG electroencephalogram
EENT eye, ear, nose, and throat
EF ejection fraction
EGD esophagogastroduodenoscopy
EIA enzyme immunosorbent assay
EKG electrocardiogram; electrocardiograph
ELISA enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay
elix. elixir
Em emmetropia
EMA-IgA immunoglobulin A antiendomysial
EMG electromyogram, electromyography
EMS emergency medical service
Endo endocrine
ENT ear, nose, and throat
EOM extraocular muscles
EP extrapyramidal
EPS extrapyramidal symptoms
ER Emergency Room, extended-release
ERCP endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography
ESR erythrocyte sedimentation rate
ESRD end-stage renal disease
EST electroshock therapy
ESWL extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy
ET-1 endothelin-1
ETOH, EtOH ethyl alcohol
ext. extensor; external
F Fahrenheit
f female
FA fatty acid
F and E fluid and electrolyte
FAP familial adenomatous polyposis
FBS fasting blood sugar
FD fatal dose; focal distance
FDA (U.S.) Food and Drug Administration
Fe iron
FEV forced expiratory volume
FFP fresh frozen plasma
FHT fetal heart tone
FISH fluorescence in situ hybridization
fl. flexor
Fld fluid
FP family practice; family practitioner
FSH follicle-stimulating hormone
FTT failure to thrive
FUO fever of unknown origin
G, g, gm gram
GABA gamma-aminobutyric acid
GABAB gamma-aminobutyric acid type B
GABRB3 GABAA receptor gene
garg gargle
GB gallbladder; Guillain-Barré
GC gonococcus or gonorrheal
GDM gestational diabetes mellitus
GDS Geriatric Depression Scale
GERD gastroesophageal reflux disease
GFR glomerular filtration rate
GGT gamma-glutamyl transferase
GH growth hormone
GI gastrointestinal
GnRH gonadotropin-releasing hormone
GP general practitioner
G6PD glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase
gr grain
grad by degrees
GRAS generally recognized as safe
GSW gunshot wound
GTT glucose tolerance test
Gtt, gtt drops
GU genitourinary
guttat. drop by drop
GVHD graft-versus-host disease
GYN gynecology
H hydrogen
H+ hydrogen ion
h, hr hour
H&H hematocrit and hemoglobin
H1N1 hemagglutinin type 1 and neuraminidase type 1
H2 histamine 2
HAART highly active antiretroviral therapy
HAV hepatitis A virus
HBV hepatitis B virus
HCG human chorionic gonadotropin
HCP health care professional
HCT, Hct hematocrit
HCV hepatitis C virus
HD hearing distance
HDL high-density lipoprotein
HDV hepatitis D
HEENT head, eye, ear, nose, and throat
HELLP hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, low platelets
HEPA high-efficiency particulate air
HER2 human EGF (epidermal growth factor) receptor 2
HEV hepatitis E
HF heart failure
Hg mercury
hgb hemoglobin
HGSIL high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion
Hib Haemophilus influenzae type B
HIDA hepatobiliary iminodiacetic acid (cholescintigraphy)
HIV human immunodeficiency virus
HLA human leukocyteantigen
h/o history of
HOB head of bed
H2O water
H2O2 hydrogen peroxide
hor. decub. bedtime
hor. som, h.s. bedtime
HPI history of present illness
HPV human papillomavirus
HR heart rate
HRT hormone replacement therapy
HSIL high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion
HSV herpes simplex virus
HTLV-III human T lymphotropic virus type III
HTN hypertension
hx, Hx history
Hy hyperopia
Hz hertz (cycles per second)
I iodine
131I radioactive isotope of iodine (atomic weight 131)
132I radioactive isotope of iodine (atomic weight 132)
I&O intake and output
IBW ideal body weight
IC inspiratory capacity
ICD implantable cardioverter defibrillator
ICP intracranial pressure
ICS intercostal space
ICSH interstitial cell-stimulating hormone
ICU intensive care unit
Id. the same
IDDM insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus
IDM infants of diabetic mothers
IED improvised explosive device
Ig immunoglobulin
IgE immunoglobulin E
IgG immunoglobulin G
IL-1 interleukin 1
IL-8 interleukin 8
IM intramuscular
in d. daily
INF interferon
inf. inferior
inj. injection
INR international normalized ratio
instill. instillation
int. internal
IOP intraocular pressure
IPPB intermittent positive pressure breathing
IQ intelligence quotient
IRV inspiratory reserve volume
I.U. a international unit
IUCD intrauterine contraceptive device
IUD intrauterine device
IUFD intrauterine fetal death
IV intravenous
IVP intravenous pyelogram
J joule
JNC 7 The Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure
JRA juvenile rheumatoid arthritis
jt. joint
K potassium
kg kilogram
KI potassium iodine
KOH potassium hydroxide
KS Kaposi sarcoma
KUB kidney, ureter, and bladder
kv kilovolt
KVO keep vein open
L liter
L&D labor and delivery
lab laboratory
lat lateral
lb pound
LBW low birth weight
LD50 lethal dose, median
LDH lactate dehydrogenase
LDL low-density lipoprotein
LE lower extremity; lupus erythematosus
LEEP loop electrosurgical excision procedure
LFT liver function test
LGA large for gestational age
LH luteinizing hormone
Li lithium
lig ligament
liq. liquid; fluid
LLE left lower extremity
LLL left lower lobe
LLQ left lower quadrant
lmp last menstrual period
LOC level/loss of consciousness
LP lumbar puncture
LR lactated Ringer (solution)
LSIL low-grade squamous epithelial lesion
LTD lowest tolerated dose
LUE left upper extremity
LUL left upper lobe
LUQ left upper quadrant
LV left ventricle
LVAD left ventricular assist device
LVH left ventricular hypertrophy
M master; medicine; molar; thousand; muscle
m male; meter; minim; mole; meta; muscle
MA mental age
MAO-B monoamine oxidase-B
man. prim. first thing in the morning
MAP mean arterial pressure
MAT Miller Analogies Test
MBD minimal brain dysfunction
mc; mCi millicurie
mcg microgram
MCH mean corpuscular hemoglobin
MCHC mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration
MCV mean corpuscular volume
MD muscular dystrophy
MDI metered-dose inhaler
MED minimum effective dose
med medial
MELD Model for End-Stage Liver Disease
µEq microequivalent
mEq milliequivalent
mEq/L milliequivalent per liter
ME ratio myeloid/erythroid ratio
MG myasthenia gravis
Mg magnesium
MgSO4 magnesium sulfate
µg microgram
mg milligram
MI myocardial infarction
MID minimum infective dose
mist. a mixture
ml milliliter
MLD minimum lethal dose
MLF medial longitudinal fasciculus
MM mucous membrane; multiple myeloma
mm millimeter
mm Hg millimeters of mercury
mMol millimole
MMR measles-mumps-rubella (vaccine)
MMSE Mini-Mental Status Examination
Mn manganese
mol wt molecular weight
mor. dict. as directed
mor. sol. as accustomed
MPC maximum permitted concentration
MPN most probable number
mr milliroentgen
MRA magnetic resonance angiography
MRgFUS MR-guided focused ultrasound surgery
MRI magnetic resonance imaging
MS mitral stenosis; multiple sclerosis
MV mitral valve
mV millivolt
MVA motor vehicle accident
MW molecular weight
My myopia
N nitrogen
n nerve
N/A not applicable
Na sodium
NAA nucleic acid amplification
NAD no acute distress
n.b. note well
nCi nanocurie
NDC National Drug Code
NG, ng nasogastric
NGT nasogastric tube
NH3 ammonia
Ni nickel
NICU neonatal intensive care unit
NIDDM noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus
NIH National Institutes of Health
NK natural killer
NKA no known allergies
NMDA N-methyl D-aspartate
NMJ neuromuscular junction
NMS neuroleptic malignant syndrome
nn nerves
noct. in the night
noct. maneq. night and morning
non rep; n.r. do not repeat
NPN nonprotein nitrogen
NPO; n.p.o. nothing by mouth
NRC normal retinal correspondence
NS normal saline
NSAID nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug
NSR normal sinus rhythm
N&V, N/V nausea and vomiting
O pint
O2 oxygen
OB obstetrics
OC oral contraceptive
OCD obsessive-compulsive disorder
O.D. right eye
ol. oil
om. mane vel noc. every morning or night
omn. hor. every hour
omn. noct. every night
OmPC outer membrane porin C
OOB out of bed
OPD outpatient department
OR operating room
ORIF open reduction with/and internal fixation
O.S. left eye
OSHA Occupational Safety and Health Administration
OT occupational therapy
OTC over-the-counter
OU each eye
oz ounce
P, p melting point
p after
P2 pulmonic second sound
P-A; PA; pa placenta abruption; posteroanterior; pulmonary artery
PABA para-aminobenzoic acid (vitamin B10)
Paco2 partial pressure of carbon dioxide in alveolar gas
PACU postanesthesia care unit
PAD peripheral arterial disease
PALS pediatric advanced life support
P-ANCA perinuclear antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody
PAO 2 alveolar oxygen partial pressure
Pap, Pap test Papanicolaou smear
part. vic in divided doses
Pb lead
PBI protein-bound iodine
p.c. after meals
PCA patient-controlled analgesia
Pco 2 carbon dioxide pressure
PCOS polycystic ovarian syndrome
PCP Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia; primary care physician; primary care provider
PCR polymerase chain reaction
PCWP pulmonary capillary wedge pressure
PD interpupillary distance; Parkinson disease; peritoneal dialysis
pd prism diopter; pupillary distance
PDA patent ductus arteriosus
PDR Physicians’ Desk Reference
PE physical examination; pulmonary embolism
PEEP positive end expiratory pressure
PEFR peak expiratory flow rate
PEG percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy
per through or by
PERRLA pupils equal, regular, react to light and accommodation
PET positron emission tomography
PFP, P4P pay for performance
PFT pulmonary function test
pH hydrogen ion concentration
Pharm; Phar. pharmacy
PI present illness; previous illness
PICC peripherally inserted central catheter
PID pelvic inflammatory disease
PIH pregnancy-induced hypertension
pil. pill
PIP proximal interphalangeal
PIPDA (scan) 99mTc-para-isopropylacetanilido-iminodiaacetic acid (cholescintigraphy)
PKU phenylketonuria
PM afternoon/evening
PMH past medical history
PMI point of maximal impulse
PMN polymorphonuclear neutrophil leukocytes
PMS premenstrual syndrome
PND paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea
PNH paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria
PNS peripheral nervous system
PO; p.o. orally
POLST physician orders for life-sustaining therapy
post. posterior
PP placenta previa
PPD purified protein derivative (TB test)
ppm parts per million
p.r. through the rectum
PRBCs packed red blood cells
p.r.n. as needed
pro time/PT prothrombin time
PSA prostate-specific antigen
PSV prostate-specific antigen
PT prothrombin time; physical therapy
Pt platinum; patient
pt pint
PTT partial thromboplastin time
Pu plutonium
PUBS percutaneous umbilical blood sampling
PUVA psoralen ultraviolet A
p.v. through the vagina
PVC premature ventricular contraction
PVR peripheral vascular resistance
q every
q.d. every day
q.h. every hour
q.2h. every 2 hours
q.3h. every 3 hours
q.4h. every 4 hours
q.i.d. a four times a day
q.l. as much as wanted
qns quantity not sufficient
q.o.d. a every other day
q.p. as much as desired
q.s. as much as needed
qt quart
q.v. as much as you please
RA rheumatoid arthritis
Ra radium
rad radiation absorbed dose
RAI radioactive iodine
RAIU radioactive iodine uptake
RBC red blood cell; red blood count
RD Raynaud disease
RDA recommended daily/dietary allowance
RDS respiratory distress syndrome
RE right eye
Re rhenium
REM rapid eye movement
RF rheumatoid factor
RFT renal function test
Rh rhesus factor; rhodium
RHD rheumatic heart disease
RLE right lower extremity
RLL right lower lobe
RLQ right lower quadrant
RML right middle lobe of lung
Rn radon
RNA ribonucleic acid
R/O rule out
ROM range of motion
ROS review of systems
RPM revolutions per minute
RQ respiratory quotient
RR recovery room; respiratory rate
RSV respiratory syncytial virus
RT radiation therapy; respiratory therapy
R/T related to
RUE right upper extremity
RUL right upper lobe
RUQ right upper quadrant
S mark
s without
S. sacral
S-A; S/A; SA sinoatrial
SAD seasonal affective disorder
SARS severe acute respiratory syndrome
SB small bowel
Sb antimony
SBP systolic blood pressure
SC, sc, s.c. subcutaneous(ly)
SCI spinal cord injury
S.D. standard deviation
SDAT senile dementia of the Alzheimer type
S.E. standard error
Se selenium
Sed rate sedimentation rate
semih. half an hour
SERM selective estrogen receptor modulator
SGA small for gestational age
SI international system of units
Si silicon
SIADH syndrome of inappropriate diuretic hormone
SIDS sudden infant death syndrome
Sig. write on label
SJS Stevens-Johnson syndrome
SLE systemic lupus erythematosus
SLP speech-language pathology
Sn tin
SNF skilled nursing facility
SNRI serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor
SNS sympathetic nervous system
SOB shortness of breath
sol solution, dissolved
s.o.s. if necessary
S/P no change after
SPECT single-photon emission computed tomography
sp gr specific gravity
SPF skin protection factor
sph spherical
spt. spirit
s.q. subcutaneous(ly)
Sr strontium
ss a half
SSRI selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor
SSS sick sinus syndrome
st. let it/them stand
Staph Staphylococcus
stat. immediately
STD sexually transmitted disease
Strep Streptococcus
STS serologic test for syphilis
STU skin test unit
sup. superior
supf. superficial
SV stroke volume; supraventricular
SVC superior vena cava
Sx symptoms
syr. syrup
T temperature
T3 triiodothyronine
T4 tetraiodothyronine; thyroxine
T6 thoracic nerve pair 6
TA toxin-antitoxin
Ta tantalum
T&A tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy
TAH total abdominal hysterectomy
TAT thematic apperception test
T.A.T. toxin-antitoxin
TB tuberculin; tuberculosis; tubercle bacillus
Tb terbium
t.d.s. to be taken three times daily
Te tellurium; tetanus
TEE transesophageal echocardiogram
TEN toxic epidermal necrolysis
TENS transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation
TG thyroglobulin
Th thorium
THR total hip replacement
TIA transient ischemic attack
TIBC total iron-binding capacity
t.i.d. three times a day
t.i.n. three times a night
tinct., tr tincture
TKR total knee replacement
Tl thallium
TLC, tlc tender loving care; thin layer chromatography; total lung capacity
TM tympanic membrane
TMJ temporomandibular joint
TN trigeminal nerve
TNF tumor necrosis factor
TNF-I tumor necrosis factor inhibitor
TNF-α tumor necrosis factor alpha
TNM tumor-node-metastasis
TNT trinitrotoluene
TNTM too numerous to mention
top. topically
TORB telephone order read back
TPI Treponema pallidum immobilization test for syphilis
TPN total parenteral nutrition
TPO thyroid peroxidase
TPR temperature, pulse, and respiration
tr, tinct. tincture
TRAP criteria tremor, rigidity, akinesia or postural instablity bradykinesia, and postural instability
Treg regulatory T cell
trit. triturate, grind
TSD time since death
TSE testicular self-examination
TSH thyroid-stimulating hormone
tTG antitransglutaminase
TUMA transurethral microwave antenna
TUR transurethral resection
TURP transurethral resection of the prostate
Tx treatment
a uranium; unit a
UA urinalysis
UC ulcerative colitis
UE upper extremity
UHF ultrahigh frequency
ult. praes. the last ordered
Umb; umb umbilicus
ung. ointment
URI upper respiratory infection
US ultrasonic, ultrasound
USAN United States Adopted Name
USP United States Pharmacopeia
ut. dict. as directed
UTI urinary tract infection
UV ultraviolet
v vein
VA visual acuity
VC vital capacity
VD venereal disease
VDRL Venereal Disease Research Laboratories
VF ventricular fibrillation
Vf field of vision
VLBW very low birth weight
VLDL very low density lipoprotein
VMA vanillylmandelic acid
VOE VistA-Office Electronic Health Record
vol. volume
vol % volume percent
VORB verbal order read back
V/Q ventilation/perfusion
VS volumetric solution; vesicular sound; vital signs
VSD ventricular septal defect
VT ventricular tachycardia
vv veins
VZIG varicella zoster immune globulin
W tungsten
w watt
WAIS Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale
WAP written action plan
WBC white blood cell; white blood count
WDWN well-developed, well-nourished
WF/BF white female/black female
WH well-hydrated
WM/BM white male/black male
WN well-nourished
WNL within normal limits
wt. weight
w/v. weight in volume
x multiplied by
y yocto-
yo years old
yr year
Z atomic number
Zn zinc

Error-Prone Abbreviations, Symbols, and Dose Designations

Intended Meaning


Best Practice

Abbreviations for Doses/Measurement Units  (doctor prescription meaning)


Cubic centimeters

Mistaken as u (units)

Use mL


International unit(s)

Mistaken as IV (intravenous) or the number 10 

Use unit(s) 
(International units can be expressed as units alone)





Lowercase letter l mistaken as the number 1 

Use L (UPPERCASE) for liter 

Use mL (lowercase m, UPPERCASE L) for milliliter 

MM or M

M or K



Mistaken as thousand

Mistaken as million

M has been used to abbreviate both million and thousand (M is the Roman numeral for thousand)

Use million 

Use thousand

Ng or ng


Mistaken as mg

Mistaken as nasogastric

Use nanogram or nanog

U or u**


Mistaken as zero or the number 4, causing a 10-fold overdose or greater (e.g., 4U seen as 40 or 4u seen as 44)

Mistaken as cc, leading to           administering volume instead of units (e.g., 4u seen as 4cc)

Use unit(s)



Mistaken as mg

Use mcg

Abbreviations for Route of Administration


Right ear, left ear, each ear

Mistaken as OD, OS, OU (right eye, left eye, each eye)

Use right ear, left ear, or each ear



Mistaken as IM or IV

Use NAS (all UPPERCASE letters) or intranasal 



Mistaken as intratracheal, intratumor, intratympanic, or inhalation therapy 

Use intrathecal


Right eye, left eye, each eye

Mistaken as AD, AS, AU (right ear, left ear, each ear)

Use right eye, left eye, or each eye

Per os

By mouth, orally

The os was mistaken as left eye (OS, oculus sinister)

Use PO, by mouth, or orally

SC, SQ, sq, or sub q 


SC and sc mistaken as SL or sl (sublingual)

SQ mistaken as “5 every”
The q in sub q has been mistaken as “every” 

Use SUBQ (all UPPERCASE letters, without spaces or periods between letters) or subcutaneous(ly)

Abbreviations for Frequency/Instructions for Use




At bedtime, hours of sleep

Mistaken as bedtime

Mistaken as half-strength 

Use half-strength

Use HS (all UPPERCASE letters) for bedtime 

o.d. or OD

Once daily

Mistaken as right eye (OD, oculus dexter), leading to oral liquid medications administered in the eye

Use daily

Q.D., QD, q.d., or qd** 

Every day

Mistaken as q.i.d., especially if the period after the q or the tail of a handwritten q is misunderstood as the letter i

Use daily 


Nightly at bedtime

Mistaken as qhr (every hour)

Use nightly or HS for bedtime


Nightly or at bedtime

Mistaken as qh (every hour)

Use nightly or HS for bedtime

Q.O.D., QOD, q.o.d., or qod**

Every other day

Mistaken as qd (daily) or qid (four times daily), especially if the “o” is poorly written

Use every other day



Mistaken as qid (four times daily)

Use daily

q6PM, etc.

Every evening at 6 PM

Mistaken as every 6 hours

Use daily at 6 PM or 6 PM daily



Sliding scale regular insulin

Sliding scale insulin

Mistaken as selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitor 

Mistaken as Strong Solution of Iodine (Lugol’s)

Use sliding scale (insulin) 

TIW or tiw

BIW or biw

3 times a week

2 times a week

Mistaken as 3 times a day or twice in a week

Mistaken as 2 times a day

Use 3 times weekly

Use 2 times weekly


As directed (ut dictum) 

Mistaken as unit dose (e.g., an order for “dilTIAZem infusion UD” was mistakenly administered as a unit [bolus] dose)

Use as directed

Miscellaneous Abbreviations Associated with Medication Use



Baby boy A (twin) 

Baby girl B (twin)

B in BBA mistaken as twin B rather than gender (boy)

B at end of BGB mistaken as gender (boy) not twin B 

When assigning identifiers to newborns, use the mother’s last name, the baby’s gender (boy or girl), and a distinguishing identifier for all multiples (e.g., Smith girl A, Smith girl B)


Discharge or discontinue

Premature discontinuation of medications when D/C (intended to mean discharge) on a medication list was misinterpreted as discontinued

Use discharge and discontinue or stop



Mistaken as IV or intrajugular

Use injection


Orange juice

Mistaken as OD or OS (right or left eye); drugs meant to be diluted in orange juice may be given in the eye

Use orange juice

Period following abbreviations (e.g., mg., mL.)†

mg or mL

Unnecessary period mistaken as the number 1, especially if written poorly

Use mg, mL, etc., without a terminal period

Drug Name Abbreviations ( medical prescription meaning / code  )

To prevent confusion, avoid abbreviating drug names entirely. Exceptions may be made for multi-ingredient drug formulations, including vitamins, when there are electronic drug name field space constraints; however, drug name abbreviations should NEVER be used for any medications on the ISMP List of High-Alert Medications (in Acute Care SettingsCommunity/Ambulatory Settings, and Long-Term Care Settings). Examples of drug name abbreviations involved in serious medication errors include:

Antiretroviral medications (e.g., DOR, TAF, TDF)

DOR: doravirine

TAF: tenofovir alafenamide

TDF: tenofovir disoproxil fumarate

DOR: Dovato (dolutegravir and lamiVUDine)

TAF: tenofovir disoproxil              fumarate

TDF: tenofovir alafenamide

Use complete drug names



Not recognized as acetaminophen

Use complete drug name



Mistaken as cytarabine (“ARA C”)

Use complete drug name


AT II: angiotensin II

AT III: antithrombin III (Thrombate III)

AT II (angiotensin II) mistaken as AT III (antithrombin III)

AT III (antithrombin III) mistaken as AT II (angiotensin II)

Use complete drug names


zidovudine (Retrovir)

Mistaken as azithromycin, azaTHIOprine, or aztreonam

Use complete drug name


Compazine (prochlorperazine)

Mistaken as chlorproMAZINE

Use complete drug name


diluted tincture of opium or deodorized tincture of opium (Paregoric)

Mistaken as tincture of opium

Use complete drug name



Mistaken as hydroCHLOROthiazide

Use complete drug name



Mistaken as hydrocortisone (e.g., seen as HCT250 mg)

Use complete drug name


magnesium sulfate

Mistaken as morphine sulfate

Use complete drug name

MS, MSO4**

morphine sulfate

Mistaken as magnesium sulfate

Use complete drug name



Mistaken as mitoXANTRONE

Use complete drug name

Na at the beginning of a drug name 
(e.g., Na bicarbonate)  

Sodium bicarbonate

Mistaken as no bicarbonate

Use complete drug name


novel/new oral anticoagulant

Mistaken as no anticoagulant

Use complete drug name



Mistaken as oxyCODONE, OxyCONTIN

Use complete drug name



Mistaken as patient-controlled analgesia

Use complete drug name


Pitocin (oxytocin)

Mistaken as Pitressin, a discontinued brand of vasopressin still referred to as PIT

Use complete drug name


prenatal vitamins

Mistaken as penicillin VK

Use complete drug name



Mistaken as Purinethol                 (mercaptopurine)

Use complete drug name


Tylenol with codeine No. 3

Mistaken as liothyronine, which is sometimes referred to as T3

Use complete drug name

TAC or tac

triamcinolone or tacrolimus

Mistaken as tetracaine, Adrenalin, and cocaine; or as Taxotere, Adriamycin, and cyclophosphamide

Use complete drug names

Avoid drug regimen or protocol acronyms that may have a dual meaning or may be confused with other common acronyms, even if defined in an order set 



Mistaken as TPA

Use complete drug name

TPA or tPA

tissue plasminogen activator, Activase (alteplase)

Mistaken as TNK (TNKase, tenecteplase), TXA (tranexamic acid), or less often as another tissue plasminogen activator, Retavase (retaplase) 

Use complete drug name


tranexamic acid

Mistaken as TPA (tissue                 plasminogen activator)

Use complete drug name


zinc sulfate

Mistaken as morphine sulfate

Use complete drug name

Stemmed/Coined Drug Names ( medical prescription meaning / code ) 

Nitro drip

nitroglycerin infusion

Mistaken as nitroprusside infusion

Use complete drug name

IV vanc

Intravenous vancomycin

Mistaken as Invanz

Use complete drug name



Mistaken as Levophed (norepinephrine)

Use complete drug name


Neo-Synephrine, a well known but discontinued brand of phenylephrine 

Mistaken as neostigmine

Use complete drug name

Coined names for compounded products (e.g., magic mouthwash, banana bag, GI cocktail, half and half, pink lady)

Specific ingredients compounded together

Mistaken ingredients

Use complete drug/product names for all ingredients  

Coined names for compounded products should only be used if the contents are standardized and readily available for reference to prescribers, pharmacists, and nurses

Number embedded in drug name (not part of the official name) (e.g., 5-fluorouracil, 6-mercaptopurine)



Embedded number mistaken as the dose or number of tablets/capsules to be   administered

Use complete drug names, without an embedded number if the number is not part of the official drug name

Dose Designations and Other Information (medical prescription meaning / code )

1/2 tablet

Half tablet

1 or 2 tablets

Use text (half tablet) or reduced font-size fractions (½ tablet)

Doses expressed as Roman numerals (e.g., V) 


Mistaken as the designated letter (e.g., the letter V) or the wrong numeral (e.g., 10                     instead of 5)

Use only Arabic numerals (e.g., 1, 2, 3) to express doses

Lack of a leading zero before a decimal point  (e.g., .5 mg)**

0.5 mg

Mistaken as 5 mg if the decimal point is not seen

Use a leading zero before a decimal point when the dose is less than one measurement unit 

Trailing zero after a decimal point (e.g., 1.0 mg)** 

1 mg

Mistaken as 10 mg if the decimal point is not seen

Do not use trailing zeros for doses expressed in whole numbers

Ratio expression of a strength of a single-entity injectable drug product (e.g., EPINEPHrine 1:1,000; 1:10,000; 1:100,000) 

1:1,000: contains 1 mg/mL

1:10,000: contains 0.1 mg/mL

1:100,000: contains 0.01 mg/mL

Mistaken as the wrong strength 

Express the strength in terms of quantity per total volume (e.g., EPINEPHrine 1 mg per 10 mL) 

Exception: combination local anesthetics (e.g., lidocaine 1% and EPINEPHrine 1:100,000)

Drug name and dose run together (problematic for drug names that end in the letter l [e.g., propranolol20 mg; TEGretol300 mg]) 

propranolol 20 mg

TEGretol 300 mg

Mistaken as propranolol 120 mg

Mistaken as TEGretol 1300 mg

Place adequate space between the drug name, dose, and unit of measure

Numerical dose and unit of measure run together (e.g., 10mg, 10Units)

10 mg

10 mL

The m in mg, or U in Units, has been mistaken as one or two zeros when flush against the dose (e.g., 10mg, 10Units), risking a 10- to 100-fold overdose

Place adequate space between the dose and unit of measure

Large doses without   properly placed commas (e.g., 100000 units; 1000000 units) 

100,000 units

1,000,000 units

100000 has been mistaken as 10,000 or 1,000,000

1000000 has been mistaken as 100,000

Use commas for dosing units at or above 1,000 or use words such as 100 thousand or 1 million to improve readability

Note: Use commas to separate digits only in the US; commas are used in place of decimal points in some other countries

Symbols (medical prescription meaning / code )






Symbol for dram mistaken as the number 3 

Symbol for minim mistaken as mL

Use the metric system


Administer once

Administer for 1 day

Use explicit words (e.g., for 1 dose)

> and < 

More than and less than 

Mistaken as opposite of intended

Mistakenly have used the incorrect symbol

< mistaken as the number 4 when handwritten (e.g., <10 misread as 40)

Use more than or less than

↑ and ↓†

Increase and decrease

Mistaken as opposite of intended

Mistakenly have used the incorrect symbol

↑ mistaken as the letter T, leading to misinterpretation as the start of a drug name, or mistaken as the numbers 4 or 7 

Use increase and decrease

/ (slash mark)†

Separates two doses or indicates per

Mistaken as the number 1 (e.g., 25 units/10 units misread as 25 units and 110 units)

Use per rather than a slash mark to separate doses



Mistaken as the number 2 

Use at



Mistaken as the number 2 

Use and


Plus or and

Mistaken as the number 4 

Use plus, and, or in addition to



Mistaken as a zero (e.g., q2° seen as q20)

Use hr, h, or hour

Ф or ᴓ†

Zero, null sign

Mistaken as the numbers 4, 6, 8, and 9 

Use 0 or zero, or describe intent using whole words



Mistaken as a number sign

Use the metric system (kg or g) rather than pounds

Use lb if referring to pounds 

Apothecary or Household Abbreviations (medical prescription meaning / code )

Explicit apothecary or household measurements may ONLY be safely used to express the directions for mixing dry ingredients to prepare topical products (e.g., dissolve 2 capfuls of granules per gallon of warm water to prepare a magnesium sulfate soaking aid). Otherwise, metric system measurements should be used.



Mistaken as gram

Use the metric system (e.g., mcg, g)



Mistaken as doctor

Use the metric system (e.g., mL)



Mistaken as minutes

Use the metric system (e.g., mL)



Mistaken as zero or 02

Use the metric system (e.g., mL)



Mistaken as tablespoon(s)

Use the metric system (e.g., mL)

tbsp or Tbsp


Mistaken as teaspoon(s)

Use the metric system (e.g., mL)

Common Abbreviations with Contradictory 

Contradictory Meanings


For additional information and tables from Neil Davis ( containing additional examples of abbreviations with contradictory or ambiguous meanings, please click here.


Breast, brain, or bladder

Use breast, brain, or bladder


Cerebral, coronary, or carotid 

Use cerebral, coronary, or carotid

D or d

Day or dose 
(e.g., parameter-based dosing formulas using D or d [mg/kg/d] could be interpreted as either day or dose [mg/kg/day or mg/kg/dose]; or x3d could be interpreted as either 3 days or 3 doses)

Use day or dose


Hand or hip

Use hand or hip


Impaired or improvement

Use impaired or improvement


Liver or lung

Use liver or lung


No or normal

Use no or normal


Pancreas, prostate, preeclampsia, or psychosis

Use pancreas, prostate, preeclampsia, or psychosis


Special or standard

Use special or standard

SS or ss

Single strength, sliding scale (insulin), signs and symptoms, or ½ (apothecary)

SS has also been mistaken as the number 55 

Use single strength, sliding scale, signs and symptoms, or one-half or ½

  medical prescription meaning / code
Abbreviation Latin Meaning
aa ana of each
ad ad up to
a.c. ante cibum before meals
a.d. auris dextra right ear
ad lib. ad libitum use as much as one desires;
admov. admove apply
agit agita stir/shake
alt. h. alternis horis every other hour
a.m. Ante Meridiem morning, before noon
amp   ampule
amt   amount
aq aqua water
  auris laeva, auris  
a.l., a.s.   left ear
A.T.C.   around the clock
a.u. auris utraque both ears
bis bis twice
b.d./b.i.d. bis in die twice daily
B.M.   bowel movement
    as a large single dose (usually
bol. bolus  
B.S.   blood sugar
B.S.A   body surface areas
BUCC   inside cheek
cap., caps. capsula capsule
    with (usually written with a bar
c cum  
    on top of the “c”)
c cibos food
    with food, (but also cubic
cc cum cibos  
cf   with food
comp.   compound
cr., crm cream  
  dextrose 5% solution  
  (sometimes written as D5W)  
  dextrose 5% in normal saline  
D.A.W.   dispense as written
dc, D/C, disc   discontinue
dieb. alt. diebus alternis every other day
dil.   dilute
disp.   dispense
div.   divide
d.t.d. dentur tales doses give of such doses
D.W.   distilled water
elix.   elixir
e.m.p. ex modo prescripto as directed
emuls. emulsum emulsion
et et and
ex aq ex aqua in water
fl., fld.   fluid
ft. fiat make; let it be made
g   gram
gr   grain
gtt(s) gutta(e) drop(s)
H   hypodermic
h, hr hora hour
h.s. hora somni at bedtime
ID   intradermal
    intramuscular (with respect to
inj. injectio injection
IP   intraperitoneal
IV   intravenous
IVP   intravenous push
IVPB   intravenous piggyback
L.A.S.   label as such
LCD   coal tar solution
lin linimentum liniment
liq liquor solution
lot.   lotion
M. misce mix
m, min minimum a minimum
mcg   microgram
m.d.u. more dicto utendus to be used as directed
mEq   milliequivalent
mg   milligram
mist. mistura mix
mitte mitte send
mL   millilitre
nebul nebula a spray
N.M.T.   not more than
noct. nocte at night
non rep. non repetatur no repeats
NS   normal saline (0.9%)
1/2NS   half normal saline (0.45%)
N.T.E.   not to exceed
    both eyes, sometimes written
    as o2
o.d. oculus dexter right eye
o.s. oculus sinister left eye
o.u. oculus uterque both eyes
oz   ounce
per per by or through
p.c. post cibum after meals
p.m. Post Meridiem evening or afternoon
prn pro re nata as needed
p.o. per os by mouth or orally
p.r.   by rectum
pulv. pulvis powder
q quaque every
q.a.d. quoque alternis die every other day
  quaque die ante  
q.a.m.   every day before noon
  quater die  
q.d.s.   four times a day
  quaque die post  
q.p.m.   every day after noon
q.h. quaque hora every hour
q.h.s. quaque hora somni every night at bedtime
  every 1 hour; (can replace “1”  
q.1h quaque 1 hora  
    with other numbers)
q.d. quaque die every day
q.i.d. quater in die four times a day
q.o.d.   every other day
  quater quaque  
qqh   every four hours
q.s. quantum sufficiat a sufficient quantity
QWK   every week
R   rectal
rep., rept. repetatur repeats
RL, R/L   Ringer’s lactate
    without (usually written with a
s sine  
    bar on top of the “s”)
s.a. secundum artum use your judgement
SC, subc, subcut,    
subq, SQ    
sig   write on label
SL   sublingually, under the tongue
sol solutio solution
s.o.s., si op. sit si opus sit if there is a need
ss semis one half
stat statim immediately
supp suppositorium suppository
susp   suspension
syr syrupus syrup
tab tabella tablet
tal., t talus such
tbsp   tablespoon
troche trochiscus lozenge
tsp   teaspoon
t.i.d. ter in die three times a day
t.d.s. ter die sumendum three times a day
t.i.w.   three times a week
top.   topical
T.P.N.   total parenteral nutrition
tr, tinc., tinct.   tincture
u.d., ut. dict. ut dictum as directed
ung. unguentum ointment
U.S.P. United States Pharmacopoeia  
vag vaginally  
w with  
w/o without  
X times  
Y.O. years old  

To avoid ambiguity, the following abbreviations are not recommended [1] [2]:
 a.u., a.s., a.d. – Latin for both, left and right ears; the “a” can be misread to be an
“o” and interpreted to mean both, right or left eyes
 bt – intended to mean “bedtime”, but can be misread as “bid” or twice daily.
 d/c – can mean “discontinue” or “discharge”
 h.s. – can mean half strength or “hour of sleep”
 IJ – intended to mean “injection”, but can be misread as “IV”
 IN – intended to mean “intranasal”, but can be misread as “IM” or “IV”
 IU – intended to mean “international unit”, but can be misread as “IV” or “10”
 o.d., o.s., o.u. – the “o” can be misread as “a”.
 o.d. – can mean “once daily” or “right eye”.
 OJ – intended to mean “orange juice” but can be misread as “OD” or “OS”
 q4PM – intended to mean “at 4 PM”, but can be misread as every 4 hours
 q.d., q1d – intended to mean “every day” but can be misread as “q.i.d.” or 4 times a
 q.o.d. – meant “every other day” but the “o” can be interpreted as “.” or “i” resulting
in double or eight times the frequency
 SC – meant “subcutaneaous” but mistaken for “SL” for “sublingual”
 SQ – meant “subcutaneaous” but mistaken for “5Q” or 5 every dose
 ‘ss – intended to mean “sliding scale” or “1/2”, but can be mistaken as “55”
 ‘SSI, SSRI – intended to mean “sliding scale insulin” or “sliding scale regular insulin”,
but can be mistaken as “strong solution of iodine” or “selective serotonin reuptake
 T.I.W – meant 3 times a week but mistaken for twice a week
 U – meant “units” but mistaken for “0”, “4” (so “4U” can become “40” and the “U” is
assumed), or misread as “cc” when poorly written; conversely cc can be mistaken
for “U”
 μg – meant “microgram” but mistaken for “mg”; this 1000-fold error can cause
potentially fatal misunderstandings
Notice that SID or S.I.D. is not a recognized abbreviation and
should not be used.

Don’t Computers Solve The Problem With Abbreviations?

A portion of the composed or PC produced truncations, solution images, and portion assignments can in any case be confounding and lead to botches in drug dosing or timing. What’s more, when these contractions are hazy, additional time should be spent by drug specialists or other medical services suppliers attempting to explain their implications, which can postpone truly necessary therapies.

By and large, unfortunate handwriting and absence of normalization was the main driver of a significant number of the solution blunders. Today, numerous medicines are presently submitted through electronic endorsing (e-recommending), electronic clinical records (EMRs), and automated doctor request section (CPOE), which has assisted with bringing down the paces of these clinical mistakes. Be that as it may, disparities in electronic solutions are normal and can prompt clinical blunders and conceivable patient mischief.

Assuming that you get a medicine mark with muddled and confounding headings, consistently summon your PCP right to beware of the right data.

Ways For Health Care Providers To Avoid Medication Errors
Totally work out (or select electronically) the solution, including the medication name and measurement routine. The full dose routine incorporates the portion, recurrence, length, and course of organization of the medication to be directed.
While working out a portion, DO NOT utilize a following zero and DO utilize a main zero.
For veterinarians, while bringing in or working out a human medication remedy for a creature, verbally state or work out the whole solution since certain drug specialists might be new to veterinary shortened forms.
Utilize a modernized remedy framework and electronic conveyance of solutions to limit confusion of penmanship.
Establishments ought to routinely teach and update medical care suppliers and different workers on legitimate utilization of shortenings.
Report unfriendly occasions that originate from prescription blunders or truncations mistakes to the FDA; these occasions can be utilized to additionally illuminate and grow proposals for security.
Experts, including doctors, attendants, drug specialists, doctor associates and medical attendant professionals, ought to be exceptionally acquainted with the truncations utilized in clinical practice and in medicine composing. All medication names, dose units, and headings for use ought to be composed plainly to stay away from error.

Drug specialists ought to be remembered for groups that create or assess EMRs and e-recommending apparatuses. As per the Joint Commission, medical care associations can foster their own inside guidelines for clinical shortenings, utilize a distributed reference source with steady terms, and ought to guarantee to stay away from various contractions for a similar word. Interior requirement, normal survey and consistency are the vital all of the time.

What Can You Do As a Patient?
Ask your primary care physician how you should accept your medicine before you leave the workplace, and record it for future reference.
Consider taking a confided in relative or companion to your clinical arrangements to assist you with recording significant guidelines.
In the event that you get a medicine with surprising, unforeseen or confounding headings, make certain to twofold check with your primary care physician.
FDA energizes all medical services suppliers, patients and shoppers to report prescription mistakes to the FDA Medwatch Program. The FDA is then mindful of likely issues and can give powerful intercessions that will limit further blunders. Convenient counteraction of clinical mistakes can save a patient’s life.

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