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VA San Diego Healthcare System

“Do Not Use” / Dangerous Abbreviation List

Clear communication is an essential part of good patient care.  The following abbreviations or symbols have been found to result in a high rate of patient safety incidents and are therefore prohibited from use.  This prohibition applies to all orders and all medication-related documentation whether handwritten, directly entered into the electronic record system, or on pre-printed forms.

Do Not Use Potential Problem Use Instead
IU (International Unit) Mistaken as IV (intravenous) or the number 10 (ten) Write “International Unit”
MS
MSO4 or MgSO4
Can mean morphine sulfate or magnesium sulfate and are confused or mistaken for one another

Write “morphine sulfate”

Write “magnesium sulfate”

Q.D., QD, q.d, qd (daily)

Q.O.D., QOD, q.o.d., qod (every other day)

Mistaken for each other

Period after the q mistaken for “I” and the “Q” mistaken for “I”

Write “daily”

Write “every other day”

Trailing Zero (e.g. X.0 mg)*
Lack of Leading Zero (.Xmg)
Decimal point is missed leading to 10-fold dose error Write X
Write 0.X
U (for unit) Mistaken as “0”, the number 4, or “cc” Write “unit”

 

* Exceptions: A “trailing zero” may be used where needed to demonstrate the level of precision of the value being reported, such as for laboratory results, imaging studies that report size of lesions, or catheter/tube sizes.  A trailing zero may not be used in medication orders or other medication related documentation.

The following list are the documents that VA San Diego Healthcare System defines as "Medication-related" for purposes of auditing and reporting of individual compliance to the Medical Executive Committee.  However, the use of dangerous abbreviations should be avoided in all documentation.

Medication-Related Document Titles: Provider-specific monitoring for dangerous abbreviations will take place in the following documents

   ADR/ADVERSE DRUG REACTION

   ADR/DRUG ALLERGY NOTE

   CONSULT/PHARM

   CONSULT/PHARM/NON-FORMULARY DRUG

   DC/PHYSICIAN D/C SUMMARY

   DRUG  NUTRI/DRUG-NUTRI INTERACTION

   DRUG  CONSULT/PSYCH/ALCOHOL DRUG TREATMENT PROGRAM    

   H&P/PHYSICIAN ADMISSION H&P /BPT

   H&P/PSYCHIATRY ADMISSION H&P /BPT

   MEDICATION ABUSE

   NURS/ECC/PSYCHOTROPIC

   NURS/ECC/PSYCHOTROPIC MONITOR

   NURS/ECC/RN PSYCHOTROPIC

   NUTRI/DRUG-NUTRI INTERACTION

   PACU  NURS/PACU TRANSFER

   PACU  ANESTH/PACU DISCHARGE NOTE

   PACU  ANESTH/PACU ADMIT

   PHARM/ADTP DC COUNSELING /BPT

   PHARM/ANTICOAGULATION

   PHARM/COGNITIVE CLINIC

   PHARM/DC COUNSELING

   PHARM/DC COUNSELING LONG /BPT

   PHARM/DIABETES CARE /BPT

   PHARM/ECU MONTHLY REVIEW

   PHARM/GEN PSYCH

   PHARM/HEMODIALYSIS /BPT

   PHARM/ICU INITIAL ASSESSMENT NOTE /BPT

   PHARM/INITIAL ASSESSMENT

   PHARM/INITIAL ASSESSMENT /BPT

   PHARM/INITIAL ASSESSMENT ABBRV /BPT

   PHARM/LIPID CLINIC /BPT

   PHARM/MED COUNSELING NOTE /BPT

   PHARM/MED MANAGEMENT CLINIC /BPT

   PHARM/MED/SPID

   PHARM/MOOD CLINIC

   PHARM/MST CLINIC

   PHARM/MST/TELEPHONE CONTACT

   PHARM/NON FORMULARY PRIOR AUTH

   PHARM/NON INTERVENTION /BPT

   PHARM/ONCOLOGY

   PHARM/PEC

   PHARM/PHARMACOKINETICS

   PHARM/PRACTITIONER CLINIC /BPT

   PHARM/PROGRESS NOTE

   PHARM/RESIDENT

   PHARM/SAMI

   PHARM/SMOKING CESSATION

   PHARM/TELEPHONE CONTACT

   PHARM/TRANSITIONAL PHARMACY BENEFIT NOTE

   PHARM/TRIAGE