Table 1

List of high-risk abbreviations used in this study

High-risk itemIntended meaningPossible misinterpretationPreferred correction
1.µgMicrogrammgWrite ‘mcg’
2.BTBedtimeBID (twice daily)Use ‘bedtime’
3.ccCubic centimetresu (units)Use ‘mL’
4.D/CDischarge or discontinueEither oneUse ‘discharge’ or ‘discontinue’
5.IJInjectionIV or intrajugularInjection
6.HSBedtime or half-strengthEither oneUse ‘bedtime’ or ‘half-strength’
7.IUInternational unitsIV or 10 (ten)Use ‘units’
8.o.d. or ODOnce dailyRight eye, leading to oral liquid instilled in to the eyeUse ‘daily’
9.q.d. or QDEvery dayq.i.d.(four times daily)Use ‘daily’
10.q.o.d. or QODEvery other dayq.d. or q.i.d.Use ‘every other day’
11.SC, SQ, sub qSubcutaneousSC as SL (sublingual), SQ as ‘5 every’, q as ‘every’Use ‘subcut’ or ‘subcutaneously’
12.ssSliding scale (insulin) or 1/2‘55’Spell out ‘sliding scale’ or use ‘one-half’ or ‘1/2’
13.U or u  
Dose designations and other information
14.Trailing zero after a decimal point (eg, 1.0 mg)1 mg10 mg if the decimal point is not seenExpress in whole numbers
15.No leading zero before a decimal point (eg, 0.5 mg)0.5 mg5 mg if the decimal point is not seenUse zero before the decimal point
16.Drug name and dose run together, especially for “L” ended drugs (eg, Tegretol300 mg)Tegretol 300 mgTegretol 1300 mgPlace enough space between the drug, dose, and unit
17.Numerical dose and unit of measure run together (eg, 10 mg, 100 mL)10 mg, 100 mLThe ‘m’ might be mistaken as a zero or two zerosPlace enough space between the dose and unit
18.Unit abbreviations with a period (eg, mg. or mL.)mg, mLThe ‘period’ might be mistaken as ‘1’Use mg, mL, etc without a period
19.Large doses without properly placed commas (eg, 100 000 units)100 000 unitsThe ‘100 000’ might be mistaken as ‘10 000’Use commas for doses above ‘1000’ or write ‘100 thousand’ instead
20.ASAAspirin or acetylsalicylic acid5-ASA (5-aminosalicylic acid or mesalazine) or azathioprineUse ‘aspirin’
21.HCLHydrochloric acid or hydrochlorideThe ‘H’ is misinterpreted as ‘K’—potassium chlorideUse complete drug name unless expressed as a drug salt
22.HCTHydrocortisoneHydrochlorothiazideUse complete drug name
23.HCTZHydrochlorothiazideHydrocortisone seen as HCT 250 mgUse complete drug name
24.MgSO4Magnesium sulfateMorphine sulfateUse complete drug name
25.MS, MSO4Morphine sulfateMagnesium sulfateUse complete drug name
26.MTXMethotrexateMitoxantroneUse complete drug name
27.ZnSO4Zinc sulfateMorphine sulfateUse complete drug name
28.> and <Greater than and less thanMistaken as opposite of intended; ‘<10’ mistaken as ‘40’Use ‘greater than’ or ‘less than’
29./ (slash)Separates two doses or indicates ‘per’Mistaken as the number ‘1’, eg, 25 units/10 units misread as ‘25 units and 110 units’Use ‘per’ rather than a slash mark to separate doses
30.@ (at sign)AtMistaken as ‘2’Use ‘at’
31.& (ampersand)AndMistaken as ‘2’Use ‘and’
32.+ (plus sign)Plus or andMistaken as ‘4’Use ‘and’