Healthcare abbreviations threaten patient safety, study finds

August 22, 2007

Though they are efficient, abbreviations in health care pose a threat to patient safety.

Though they are efficient, abbreviations in health care pose a threat to patient safety, concluded a study led by a Rutgers University pharmacy professor. Nearly 5% of all medical errors reported between 2004 and 2006 were attributed to abbreviations, according to the study. The most common abbreviation that resulted in a medical error was the use of "qd" for once daily. Other common abbreviations resulting in medical errors, according to the study, were "U" for units, "cc" for ml, "MSO4" or "MS" for morphine sulfate, and decimal errors. The study, called The Impact of Abbreviations on Patient Safety, appears in the September issue of the Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety.

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