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Prohibited Abbreviations

Prohibited Abbreviations

Abbreviations Intended Meaning Misinterpretation Suggested
1/d one daily tid 1 daily
AD, AS, AU right ear, left ear, each ear OD, OS, OU right ear, left ear, each ear
BT bedtime bid (twice daily) bedtime
cc cubic centimeters "u" (units) mL
D/C discharge or discontinue Premature discontinuation of medications if D/C (intended to mean "discharge") has been misinterpreted as "discontinued" when followed by a list of discharge medications. Discharge or Discontinue
hs (h.s.) at bedtime, hours of sleep half-strength at bedtime
HS half-strength bedtime half-strength
IJ injection IV or intrajugular injection
IN intranasal IM or IV intranasal or NAS
IU international unit IV (intravenous) or 10 (ten) units
od (o.d.) once daily "right eye" (OD-oculus dexter), leading to oral liquid medications administered in the eye. daily
OD, OS, OU right eye, left eye, each eye AD, AS, AU (right ear, left ear, each ear) right eye, left eye, each eye
OJ orange juice OD or OS (right or left eye); drugs meant to be diluted in orange juice may be given in the eye. orange juice
per os by mouth or orally "os" can be mistaken as "left eye" (OS-oculus sinister) PO, by mouth, orally
q.d. or qd every day q.i.d., especially if the period after the "q" or the tail of the "q" is misunderstood as an "l." daily
q.o.d. or QOD every other day "q.d." (daily) or "q.i.d." (4 times daily) if the "o" is poorly written every other day
q1d daily q.i.d. (r times daily) daily
q6PM, etc. early evening at 6 p.m. every 6 hours "6 PM nightly," or "6 PM daily."
qhs (q.h.s.) at bedtime "qhr" or "every hour" at bedtime
qn nightly qh (every hour) nightly
SC, SQ, sub q subcutaneous SC mistaken as SL (sublingual); SQ mistaken as "5 every;" the "q" in "sub q" has been mistaken as "every" (e.g., a heparin dose order sub q 2 hours before surgery misunderstood as every 2 hours before surgery. "subcut" or "subcutaneously"
ss sliding scale (insulin) or ½ (apothecary) 55 Spell out "sliding scale"; use "one-half" or "½."
SSI sliding scale insulin Strong solution of iodine (Lugol's) sliding scale (insulin)
SSRI sliding scale regular insulin selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitor sliding scale (insulin)
TIW, tiw, t.i.w. 3 times a week "3 times a day" or "twice in a week." 3 times weekly
U or u unit Number 0 or 4, causing a 10-fold overdose or greater (e.g., 4U seen as "40" or "4u" seen as "44"); mistaken as "cc" so dose given in volume instead of unites (e.g., 4u seen as 4 cc). unit


Symbols Intended Meaning Misinterpretation Suggested
/ (slash mark) separates 2 doses or indicates "per" number 1 ("25 units/10 units" read as "110 units.") Do not use a slash mark to separate doses.  Spell out the word "per."
+ "plus" or "and" 4 and
>  or  < "greater than" or "less than" opposite of intended "greater than" or "less than"
& and 2 and
@ at 2 at
Apothecary symbol Minim mL Use the metric system
x3d for 3 days 3 doses for 3 days
Apothecary symbol dram 3 Use the metric system
° hour zero (e.g., q2° seen as q 20) hr, h, or hour
Fg microgram mg mcg

Dose Designations and Other Information

Dose Designation / Information Intended Meaning Misinterpretation Suggested
"0" (zero) after decimal point (1.0) 1 mg 10 mg if the decimal point is not seen. Do not use terminal zeros for doses expressed in whole numbers.
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.
mg. or mL. with a period following the abbreviation. mg, mL The period is unnecessary and could be mistaken as the number 1 if written poorly Use mg, mL, etc., WITHOUT a terminal period.
Name letters and dose numbers run together (e.g., Inderal40 mg) Inderal 40 mg Misread as Inderal 140 mg Always use a space between drug name, dose, and unit of measure.
No zero before decimal dose (.5 mg) 0.5 mg 5 mg Always use zero before a decimal when the dose is less than a whole unit.
Numerical dose and unit of measure run together (e.g., 10mg, 100mL) 10 mg; 100 mL The "m" is sometimes mistaken as a zero or 2 zeros, risking a 10- to 100-fold overdose. Place adequate space between the dose and unit of measure.

Drug Name Abbrevations

Drug Name Intended Meaning Misinterpretation Suggested
ARA A vidarabine cytarabine (ARA C) Use complete drug name
AZT zidovudine (Retrovir) azathioprine or aztreonam Use complete drug name
CPZ Compazine (prochlorperazine) chlorpromazine Use complete drug name
DPT Demerol-Phenergan-Thorazine diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus (vaccine) Use complete drug name
DTO diluted tincture or opium, or deodorized tincture of opium tincture of opium Use complete drug name
HCI hydrochloric acid or hydrochloride potassium chloride ("h" misinterpreted as "k") Use complete drug name
HCT hydrocortisone hydrochlorothiazide Use complete drug name
HCTZ hydrochlorothiazide hydrocortisone (seen as HCT250 mg) Use complete drug name
MgS04 magnesium sulfate morphine sulfate Use complete drug name
MS, MS04 morphine sulfate magnesium sulfate Use complete drug name
MTX methotrexate mitoxantrone Use complete drug name
PCA procainamide patient controlled analgesia Use complete drug name
PTU propylthiouracil mercaptopurine Use complete drug name
T3 Tylenol with codeine No. 3 liothyronine Use complete drug name
TAC triamcinolone tetracaine, Adrenalin, cocaine Use complete drug name
TNK TNKase TPA Use complete drug name
ZnS04 zinc sulfate morphine sulfate Use complete drug name

Stemmed Drug Names

Stemmed Drug Names Intended Meaning Misinterpretation Suggested
IV Vanc intravenous vancomycin Invanz Use complete drug name.
Nitro drip nitroglycerin infusion sodium nitroprusside infusion Use complete drug name.
Norflox norfloxacin Norflex Use complete drug name.

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Prohibited Abbreviations

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