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Medical prescriptions abbreviations glossary

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This is a list of abbreviations used in medical prescriptions. Its listing here does not mean such abbreviations should be used. See main article for discussion on the use of abbreviations. This listing does not include abbreviations for actual pharmaceuticals (which is a separate article in itself). Capitalization and the use of a period is a matter of style. In the attached list, Latin is not capitalized whereas English acronyms are. The period is used wherever there are letters omitted in the abbreviation.

Partial list of prescription abbreviations

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; freely
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
a.l., a.s. auris laeva, auris sinistra 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
bol. bolus as a large single dose (usually intravenously)
B.S.   blood sugar
B.S.A   body surface areas
BUCC   inside cheek
cap., caps. capsula capsule
c cum with (usually written with a bar on top of the "c")
c cibos food
cc cum cibos with food, (but also cubic centimetre)
cf   with food
comp.   compound
cr., crm   cream
D5W   dextrose 5% solution (sometimes written as D5W)
D5NS   dextrose 5% in normal saline (0.9%)
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
IM   intramuscular (with respect to injections)
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
o_2   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
q.a.m. quaque die ante meridiem every day before noon
q.d.s. quater die sumendus four times a day
q.p.m. quaque die post meridiem every day after noon
q.h. quaque hora every hour
q.h.s. quaque hora somni every night at bedtime
q.1h quaque 1 hora every 1 hour; (can replace "1" 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
qqh quater quaque hora 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
s sine without (usually written with a bar on top of the "s")
s.a. secundum artum use your judgement
SC, subc, subcut, subq, SQ   subcutaneous
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 day
  • 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 inhibitor
  • 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

See also

See all medical glossaries:

Published - February 2009

This glossary is available under the terms
of the GNU Free Documentation

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