Sunday, August 1, 2021

Abbreviations Commonly Used In Prescriptions and Medication Orders

by | September 26, 2020 0

The use of abbreviations is common on prescriptions and medication orders. Some are derived from the Latin through its historical use in medicine and pharmacy, whereas others have evolved through prescribers’ use of writing shortcuts.

Unfortunately, medication errors can result from the misuse, misinterpretation, and illegible writing of abbreviations, and through the use of ad hoc, or made-up, abbreviations.

The use of a controlled vocabulary, a reduction in the use of abbreviations, care in the writing of decimal points, and the proper use of leading and terminal zeros have been urged to help reduce medication errors.

It should be emphasized that a misplaced or misread decimal point represents a minimum of a 10-fold error. A list of some of these abbreviations is presented in this article.

Prescription Filling Directions

Abbreviation Meaning
aa. or (ana) of each
ad (ad) up to; to make
disp. (dispensatur) dispense
div. (dividatur) divide
d.t.d. (dentur tales doses) give of such doses
ft (fiat) make
M. (mice) mix
No. (numero) number
non rep. or NR (non repatatur) do not repeat
q.s. (quantum sufficit) a sufficient quantity
q.s. ad (quantum sufficit ad) a sufficient quantity to make
Sig. (Signa) write (directions on label)

Read Also: Glossary of Pharmaceutical Dosage Forms and Drug Delivery Systems

Quantities and Measurement

Abbreviation Meaning
BSA Body surface area
cm3 Cubic centimeter
f or fl (fluidus) Fluid
g Gram
gal Gallon
gtt (gutta) Drop
lb (libra) Pound
kg Kilogram
L Litre
m2 or M2 Square meter
mcg Microgram
mEq Milliequivalent
mg Milligram
mg/kg Milligrams (of drug) per kilogram (of body weight)
mg/m2 Milligrams (of drug) per square meter (of body surface area)
mL Milliliter
mL/h Millilitres (of drug administered) per hour (as through intravenous administration)
mOsm or mOsmol Milliosmoles
oz. Ounce
O. or pt. Pint
qt. Quart
ss or ss (semissem) One half
tbsp. Tablespoonful
tsp. Teaspoonful

Read Also: Common Medical Abbreviations and Their Meaning

Signa/Patient Instructions

Abbreviation Meaning
a.c. (ante cibos) Before meals
ad lib. (ad libitum) At pleasure, freely
admin Administer
A.M. (ante meridiem) Morning
aq. (aqua) Water
ATC Around the clock
bd or b.i.d. (bis in die) Twice a day
c or c (cum) With
d (die) Day
dil. (dilutus) Dilute
et And
h. or hr. (hora) Hour
h.s. (hora somni) At bedtime
i.c. (inter cibos) Between meals
min. (minutum) Minute
m&n Morning and night
N&V Nausea and vomiting
noct. (nocte) Night
NPO (non per os) Nothing by mouth
p.c. (post cibos) After meals
P.M. (post meridiem) Afternoon; evening
p.o. (per os) By mouth (orally)
p.r.n. (pro re nata) As needed
q (quaque) Every
qAM Every morning
q4h, q8h, etc. Every__ hours
qd (quaque die) or QD Once a day, every day
q.i.d. (quarter in die) Four times a day
rep. (repetatur) Repeat
s (sine) Without
s.i.d. (semel in die) Once a day
s.o.s. (si opus sit) If there is need; as needed
stat. (statim) Immediately
t.i.d. (ter in die) Three times a day
ut dict. (ut dictum) As directed
wk. Week

Read Also: Common Prefixes, Roots and Suffixes in Medical Terminology


Abbreviation Meaning
3TC Lamivudine
ABC Abacavir
APAP Acetaminophen
APV Amprenavir
ASA Aspirin
ATZ Atazanavir
AZT or ZDV Zidovudine
d4T Stavudine
ddC Zalcitabine
ddT Didanosine
DLV Delavirdine
EES Erythromycin ethylsuccinate
EFV Efavirenz
FTC Emtricitabine
HC Hydrocortisone
HCTZ hydrochlorothiazide
IDV Indinavir
LPV/r Lopinavir/Ritonavir
MTX Methotrexate
NFV Nelfinavir
NTG nitroglycerin
NVP Nevirapine
RTV Ritonavir
SQV Saquinavir

Read Also: Prescription Drugs and Over-The-Counter Drugs: Do You Know the Difference?


Abbreviation Meaning
BM Bowel movement
BP Blood preasure
BS Blood sugar
CHD Coronary heart disease
CHF Congestive heart failure
GERD Gastroesophageal reflux disease
GI Gastrointestinal
GFR Glomerular filtration rate
GU Genitourinary
HA Headache
HBP High blood pressure
HRT Hormone replacement therapy
HT or HTN Hypertension
IOP Intraocular pressure
MI Myocardial ischemia/ infarction
OA Osteoarthritis
Pt Patient
SOB Shortness of breath
TPN Total parenteral nutrition
URI Upper respiratory infection
UTI Urinary tract infection

Read Also: How to Reconstitute Oral Suspensions [Step-by-Step Guide]

Dosage Forms/Vehicles

Abbreviation Meaning
amp. ampule
cap. capsule
D5LR Dextrose 5 % in lactated Ringer’s
D5NS Dextrose 5 % in normal saline (0.9 % sodium chloride)
D5W Dextrose 5 % in water
D10W Dextrose 10 % in water
elix. Elixir
inj. Injection
NS Normal saline
1/2NS Half-strength normal saline
oint or ungt. (unguentum) Ointment
pulv. (pulvis) Powder
RL, R/L or LR Ringer’s Lactate or Lactated Ringer’s
sol. (solutio) Solution
supp. (suppositorium) Suppository
susp. Suspension
syr. (syrupus) Syrup
tab. (tabletta) Tablet

Read Also: 5 Tips on How to Identify Fake Drugs

Routes of Administration

Abbreviation Meaning
CIVI Continuous (24 hours) intravenous infusion
ID Intradermal
IM Intramuscular
IT Intrathecal
IVB Intravenous bolus
IV Drip Intravenous infusion
IVP Intravenous push
IVPB Intravenous piggy back
NGT Nasogastric tube
p.o. or PO (per os) By mouth
rect. Rectal or rectum
SL Sublingual
SubQ Subcutaneously
Top. Topically
V or PV Vaginally

Read Also: Routes of Drug Administration: An Overview


Ansel, H. (2010). Pharmaceutical Calculations (13th ed.). London: Wolters Kluwer Health Lippincott Williams & Wilkins

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