Commonly Used Abbreviations
a (with a line on top)
before meals (ante cibum)
activities of daily living
as desired (ad libitum)
admitted or admission
morning (ante meridiem)
Activated partial prothrombin time
a/o x 4
Alert, oriented times 4 parameters
twice daily (bis in die)
Body mass index
c (with a line on top)
Cough and deep breath
Circulation sensation, movement
cerebrovascular accident or costovertebral angle
Do not resuscitate
Fasting blood sugar
International normalized ratio
intake and output
Intravenous piggy back
left lower quadrant
Level of conscience/loss of conscience
No known drug allergies
nothing per ora, by mouth
Normal sinus rhythm
p (with a line over top)
after meals (post cibum)
patient controlled analgesia
by or through
Pupils equal round and reactive to light and accommodation
Past medical history
Past surgical history
pr or PR
by mouth (per os)
pre operative (ly)
post operative (ly)
when necessary (pro re nata)
every morning (quaque ante meridiem, omni mane)
every hour (quaque hora)
q. 2h, q 3h,.
every 2 hours, 3 hours
four times a day (quater in die)
Red blood cells
Range of Motion
right upper quadrant
s (with line on top)
Sequential compression device
SL or sl
Saline lock or sublingual
shortness of breath
three times a day (ter in die)
temperature, pulse, respirations
White blood cells
Note-I have included the Do not use list below. You do not have to learn these abbreviations.
JCAHO "Do Not Use" List: Abbreviations, Acronyms and Symbols
Medical errors have been identified as the fourth most common cause of patient deaths in the United States. To help reduce the numbers of errors related to incorrect use of terminology, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations recently issued a list of abbreviations, acronyms and symbols that should no longer be used. The action supports one of JCAHO's national patient safety goals: to improve the effectiveness of communications among caregivers.
Between 44,000 and 96,000 deaths each year may be attributed to medical errors, spawning efforts throughout the healthcare system to systematically address the issues and better protect patient safety. JCAHO's national patient safety goals are one example.
National Patient Safety Goals JCAHO's effort to further protect patient safety and address this health care issue is embodied in the approval and implementation of seven National Patient Safety Goals (NPSGs). These goals are not accreditation standards -- they are prescriptive accreditation requirements. In summary, they are:
1. Improve the accuracy of patient identification. 2. Improve the effectiveness of communication among caregivers. 3. Improve the safety of using high-alert medications. 4. Eliminate wrong-site, wrong-patient and wrong-procedure surgery. 5. Improve the safety of using infusion pumps. 6. Improve the effectiveness of clinical alarm systems. 7. Reduce the risk of health care-acquired infections.
A "minimum list" of dangerous abbreviations, acronyms and symbols
Beginning January 1, 2004, the following items must be included on each accredited organization's "Do not use" list:
U (for unit)
Mistaken as zero, four or cc.
IU (for international unit)
Mistaken as IV (intravenous) or 10 (ten)
Write "international unit"
Q.D., Q.O.D. (Latin abbreviation for once daily and every other day)
Mistaken for each other. The period after the Q can be mistaken for an "I" and the "O" can be mistaken for "I"
Write "daily" and "every other day"
Trailing zero (X.0 mg), Lack of leading zero (.X mg)
Decimal point is missed
Never write a zero by itself after a decimal point (X mg), and always use a zero before a decimal point (0.X mg)
7. 8. 9.
MS MSO4 MgSO4
Confused for one another Can mean morphine sulfate or magnesium sulfate
Write "morphine sulfate" or "magnesium sulfate"
In addition to the "minimum required list"
The following items should also be considered when expanding the "Do not use" list to include the additional three or more items referenced in the JCAHOFAQ@jcaho.org
Âµg (for microgram)
Mistaken for mg (milligrams) resulting in one thousand-fold dosing overdose
H.S. (for half-strength or Latin abbreviation for bedtime)
Mistaken for either half-strength or hour of sleep (at bedtime) q.H.S. mistaken for every hour. All can result in a dosing error.
Write out "half-strength" or "at bedtime"
T.I.W. (for three times a week)
Mistaken for three times a day or twice weekly resulting in an overdose
Write "3 times weekly" or "three times weekly"
S.C. or S.Q. (for subcutaneous)
Mistaken as SL for sublingual, or "5 every"
Write "Sub-Q", "subQ", or "subcutaneously"
D/C (for discharge)
Interpreted as discontinue whatever medications follow (typically discharge meds).
c.c. (for cubic centimeter)
Mistaken for U (units) when poorly written.
Write "ml" for milliliters
A.S., A.D., A.U. (Latin abbreviation for left, right, or both ears)O.S., O.D., O.U.(Latin abbreviation for left, right, or both eyes)
Mistaken for each other (e.g., AS for OS, AD for OD, AU for OU, etc.)
Mistaken as 2
Write: "left ear," "right ear" or "both ears;" "left eye," "right eye," or "both eyes
Updated 10/07-4/13 jab