Unacceptable Abbreviations in Prescriptions
Making sure that you correctly calculate a dose doesn’t matter much if the medication itself is incorrect or the dosing instructions are unclear. Some abbreviations in prescriptions are unacceptable because they cause ambiguity and confusion (the enemies of patient safety and quality healthcare!). For this reason, you don’t want to see these abbreviations on any medical orders you work with.
|Abbreviation||Mistaken Meanings||Better Choice|
|DC or D/C||Does it mean discontinue or discharge?||Write discontinue or discharge.|
|HS||Does it mean half-strength or at bedtime?||Write at bedtime or a designated time.
Also write out the specific dosing strength and/or quantity
|QD||Does it mean every day or right eye? QD looks like OD, which means right eye. (OS means left eye.)||Write every day.|
|QOD||Does it mean every other day or daily?||Write every other day or daily, according to patient’s needs.|
|MSO4||Does it mean magnesium sulfate or morphine sulfate?||Write magnesium sulfate or morphine sulfate.|
|U or IU||Does it mean unit or zero? Could it be mistaken for 0 or 10?||Write units.|
|IV||Does it mean intravenous, international units, or 4?||IV is an acceptable abbreviation for
intravenous, but the doc could write international
units or intravenous to be clearer.
|SQ or SC||Does it mean subcutaneous or could it be mistaken for 5Q (5 every)?||Write Subq, subcut, subcutaneous, or 5 every.|
|TIW||Does it mean twice a week or three times a week (the real meaning)?||Write twice a week or three times a week.|
|cc||Does it mean cubic centimeter or milliliter? Could it be mistaken for 00?||Write milliliter or mL.|
|Ug or g||Does it mean microgram or Ugh? Could it be mistaken for mg?||Write microgram or mcg.|
|OD||Does it mean once daily or right eye?||Write once daily or right eye.|
Source: The National Coordinating Council for Medication Error Reporting and Prevention (NCC MERP). http://www.nccmerp.org/