‘DO NOT USE’ Abbreviations

For those of you on rotations or looking forward to starting them, the Joint Commission has an official “Do Not Use” list. The reality is that certain abbreviations, acronyms, symbols, and dose designations may cause confusion and are therefore considered dangerous. To eliminate this confusion and ensure that patients receive the best, and the safest, possible care, health care professionals are urged to avoid using these abbreviations.

Using abbreviations from the official “Do Not Use” list puts your hospital at risk. Students should also be aware that their notes should not include any of these abbreviations. Take a few moments to familiarize yourself with the list so you do not cause your hospital any trouble when they are inspected by the joint commission in the future.

Joint Commission DO NOT USE Abbreviations List

Joint Commission “Do Not Use” Site

“Do-not-use” list (official in the United States)

Do not use Potential problem Use instead
U (unit) Mistaken for “0” (zero), the number “4” (four) or “cc” “unit”
IU (International Unit) Mistaken for IV (intravenous) or the number 10 (ten) “International Unit”
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 “O” mistaken for “I” (q.i.d. is four times a day dosing)
“every other day”
Trailing zero (X.0 mg)
Lack of leading zero (.X mg)
Decimal point is missed X mg
0.X mg
MS Can mean morphine sulfate or magnesium sulfate “morphine sulfate”
MSO4 and MgSO4 Confused for one another “morphine sulphate” and “magnesium sulfate”

For possible future inclusion in the official list

Do not use Potential problem Use instead
> (greater than)
< (less than)
Misinterpreted as the number “7” (seven) or the letter “L”.
Confused for one another
“greater than”
“less than”
Abbreviations for drug names Misinterpreted due to similar abbreviations for multiple drugs Write drug names in full
Apothecary units Unfamiliar to many practitioners. Confused with metric units metric units
@ Mistaken for the number “2” (two) “at”
cc Mistaken for U (units) when poorly written “mL” or “milliliters”
µg Mistaken for mg (milligrams) resulting in one thousandfold overdose “mcg” or “micrograms”

Source for Table: Wikipedia


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