Medical Abbreviations on Pharmacy Prescriptions

a before time
aa of each measurement
AAA apply to affected area Can be misinterpreted route of administration
ac before meals time
achs before meals and at bedtime time
ad lib freely; as much as desired time
ad sat. to saturation other
alt. h. every other hour time
amp ampule dosage form
ant. anterior other
ante before time
ap before dinner time
AQ, aq water other
a.s., AS left ear route of administration
ATC around the clock time
AU each ear; both ears route of administration
bid, BID twice a day time
BMI body mass index vitals
bol bolus measurement
BP blood pressure vitals
BPH benign prostatic hypertrophy medical condition
BS blood sugar lab
BSA body surface area vitals
BT bedtime In U.S., 'hs' or 'HS' is more commonly used for bedtime time
c with other
CAD coronary artery disease medical condition
cap. capsule Do not confuse with "cancer of the prostate" dosage form
CBC complete blood count lab
cc cubic centimeter Can also mean "with food" measurement
CD controlled delivery drug release technology
cm centimeter measurement
CR controlled-release drug release technology
cr, crm cream dosage form
CV cardiovascular other
CXR chest x-ray lab
DAW dispense as written other
DBP diastolic blood pressure lab
dil. diluted other
disp dispense other
div divide other
DKA diabetic ketoacidosis medical condition
dL deciliter measurement
DM diabetes mellitus medical condition
DR delayed-release drug release technology
EC enteric-coated drug release technology
ER extended-release Can also mean "emergency room" drug release technology
ER emergency room Can also mean "extended-release" other
FBS fasting blood sugar lab
Fe Iron drug or class name or lab
fl or fld fluid measurement
G, or g, or gm gram "g" is preferred symbol measurement
garg gargle route of administration
GERD gastroesophageal reflux disease medical condition
GI gastrointestinal other
gtt, gtts drop, drops Can be confused with GTT for glucose tolerance test measurement
GU genitourinary other
guttat. drop by drop measurement
h, or hr. hour time
h/o history of other
HR heart rate vitals
HS half-strength better to spell out; do not mistake for "bedtime" measurement
hs or HS at bedtime, hours of sleep Do not misinterpret as 'half-strength' time
HTN hypertension medical condition
hx history other
IJ injection better to spell out 'injection' route of administration
IM intramuscular route of administration
IN intranasal route of administration
inf infusion route of administration
inj. injection route of administration
IR immediate-release drug release technology
IU international unit Mistaken as IV (intravenous) or 10 (ten)
IUD intrauterine device dosage form
IV intravenous route of administration
K potassium drug or class name
L liter measurement
LA long-acting drug release technology
lab laboratory other
LFT liver function tests lab
liq. liquid dosage form
lot lotion dosage form
mane in the morning time
mcg microgram Can be misinterpreted to mean "mg" or milligram
MDI metered-dose inhaler dosage form
mEq milliequivalent measurement
Mg magnesium drug or class name
mg milligram measurement
mL milliliter measurement
mm millimeter measurement
mm of Hg millimeters of mercury measurement
mMol millimole measurement
MR modified-release drug release technology
MS morphine sulfate or magnesium sulfate Can mean either morphine sulfate or magnesium sulfate, spell out drug name
n or noct. in the night time
N/V, N&V nausea and vomiting other
Na sodium lab or drug or class name
NAS intranasal route of administration
NKA no known allergies other
NKDA no known drug allergies other
noct. maneq. night and morning time
NPO, n.p.o. nothing by mouth Preferred by AMA to spell out "nothing by mouth" route of administration
NS normal saline drug or class name
NSAID nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug drug or class name
NTE not to exceed other
O2 oxygen other
o.d., OD right eye Can also mean "overdose" or "once daily"; better to spell out route of administration, ophthalmic abbreviations
o.d. once per day Preferred in the UK; Can also mean "overdose" or "right eye"; better to spell outtime
o.s., OS left eye route of administration, ophthalmic abbreviations
OTC over-the-counter other
o.u., OU both eyes route of administration, ophthalmic abbreviations
oz ounce measurement
p after time
p.r.n., prn as needed time
pc after meals time
PCA patient-controlled analgesia other
PE physical exam, pulmonary embolism other
per by or through route of administration
per neb by nebulizer route of administration
per os by mouth, orally AMA prefers to spell out "by mouth" or "orally"; can be mistaken as "os" meaning left eye per FDA route of administration
pH hydrogen ion concentration other
PM evening time
PMH past medical history other
PO, p.o. orally or by mouth AMA prefers to spell out "by mouth" or "orally" route of administration
PR, p.r. per the rectum route of administration
pulv powder dosage form
q every time
q.s., qs as much as needed; a sufficient quantity measurement
q12h every 12 hours time
qd, q1d daily time
q2h every 2 hours time
q3h every 3 hours time
q4h every 4 hours time
q6h every 6 hours time
q6PM, etc every evening at 6 PM time
q8h every 8 hours time
qam every morning time
qd, QD every day Mistaken as q.i.d; Instead write "daily" or "every day" per Joint Commission's "Do Not Use" List of Abbreviations time
qh every hour time
qhs each night at bedtime Can be confused with "qh" meaning every hour; better to spell out
qid four times a day time
qn Nightly or at bedtime Not commonly used in U.S.; 'hs' more common for bedtime time qod, QOD, q.o.d every other day Can be mistaken as qd (daily) or qid (four times daily); Instead spell out "every other day" per Joint Commission's "Do Not Use" List of Abbreviations time
q.s. ad add sufficient quantity to make measurement
RDA recommended daily allowances other
RE right eye route of administration, ophthalmic abbreviations
rep repeats time
RPh pharmacist medical specialty
Rx prescription other
s without other
s.o.s. if necessary other
sa according to the art; best practice other
SA sustained action drug release technology
SBP systolic blood pressure vital sign
SID Used ONLY in Veterinary medicine"once daily" Can be confused to mean BID (twice daily) and QID (four times daily)time; used in Veterinary medicine ONLY
sig codes medical or prescription abbreviations other
Sig. write on label other
SL, s.l. sublingual, under the tongue route of administration
SNRI serotonin/norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor drug or class name
SOB shortness of breath other
sol solution; in solution dosage form
SQ, SC, sub q subcutaneously Use caution as "SC" can be mistaken for "SL," meaning sublingual per FDA route of administration
SR sustained release drug release technology
stat immediately time
sup. superior other
supf. superficial other
supp suppository dosage form
susp suspension dosage form
syr. syrup dosage form
T temperature vital sign
tab tablet dosage form
tbsp tablespoon measurement
TIA transient ischemic attack medical condition
TID, t.i.d. three times a day time
tid ac three times a day before meals time
TIN, t.i.n. three times a night time
tinct., tr tincture dosage form
TIW, tiw3 times a week Spell out; can be confused with TID (three times a day) time
top. topical route of administration
TO telephone order
TPN total parenteral nutrition drug or class name
TR timed-release drug release technology
troche lozenge dosage form
TSH thyroid stimulating hormone lab
tsp teaspoon measurement
Tx treatment other
U or u unit Mistaken as the number "0" (zero), the number "4" (four), or "cc". Prescriber should instead spell out "unit" per Joint Commission's "Do Not Use" List of Abbreviations measurement
UA urinalysis lab
ud, ut dict, UD as directed other
ung ointment dosage form
UTI urinary tract infection medical condition
vol %volume percent measurement
vol.volume measurement
w/o without other
w/v weight in volume measurement
WBC white blood cell lab
WNL within normal limits lab
wt. weight vital sign
x multiplied by other
XL extended-release drug release technology
XR extended-release drug release technology
XT extended-release drug release technology
yo years old
Zn zinc drug or class drug or class name
Eq microequivalent measurement
g, mcg microgram g or mcg can be misinterpreted as "mg", better to spell out 'microgram' measurement
L microliter measurement

List of abbreviations used in medical prescriptions

Abbreviation or symbol Latin, Greek, or New Latin English Possible confusion
aa, aa, AA ana of each  
AAA   apply to affected area Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
a.c. ante cibum before meals  
a.c.h.s., ac&hs ante cibum et hora somni before meals and at bedtime  
a.d. auris dextra right ear "a" can be mistaken as an "o" which could read "o.d.", meaning right eye
ad. adde
let there be added
add. adde
let there be added
ad lib. ad libitum Latin, "at one's pleasure"; as much as one desires; freely Compare pro re nata, "as needed", which by convention includes an aspect of "up to some maximum". Similarly, compare s.o.s., q.l., and q.s.
admov. admove
apply [or] add
add; let there be added
ad us. ad usum according to custom  
q. quales equal  
agit. agita agitate (stir or shake)  
alt. d., alt. dieb. alternis diebus every other day; on alternate days  
alt. h., alt. hor. alternis horis every other hour; at alternate hours  
a.m. ante meridiem morning, before noon  
amp. ampulla ampule (ampul, ampoule)  
amt   amount  
aq. aqua water  
aq. bull. aqua bulliens boiling water  
aq. com. aqua communis common water  
aq. dest. aqua destillata distilled water  
aq. ferv. aqua fervens hot water  
a.l., a.s. auris laeva, auris sinistra left ear "a" can be mistaken as an "o" which could read "o.s." or "o.l", meaning left eye
ATC   around the clock  
a.u. auris utraque both ears "a" can be mistaken as an "o" which could read "o.u.", meaning both eyes
BDS, b.d.s. bis die sumendum twice daily  
bib. bibe drink  
bis bis twice
b.i.d., b.d. bis in die twice daily AMA style avoids use of this abbreviation (spell out "twice a day")
bis ind. bis indies twice a day  
bis in 7 d. bis in septem diebus twice a week  
BM   bowel movement  
BNF   British National Formulary  
bol. bolus as a large single dose (usually intravenously)  
BP, Ph.Br. Pharmacopoeia Britannica British Pharmacopoeia  
BS   blood sugar  
BSA   body surface area  
b.t. bedtime mistaken for "b.i.d", meaning twice daily
bucc. bucca buccal (inside cheek)  
cap., caps. capsula capsule  
cap. capiat let him take (let the patient take)  
c.m. cras mane tomorrow morning  
c.m.s. cras mane sumendus to be taken tomorrow morning  
c, c. cum with (usually written with a bar on top of the "c")  
cib. cibus food  
c.c. cum cibo with food [or]
cubic centimetre
mistaken for "U", meaning units; also has an ambiguous meaning; use "mL" or "milliliters" (1 cm = 1 mL)
cf. confer compare  
c.n. cras nocte tomorrow night  
cochl. cochleare spoonful  
cochl. ampl. cochleare amplum an ample spoonful (a tablespoonful)  
cochl. infant. cochleare infantis a small spoonful (a teaspoonful)  
cochl. mag. cochleare magnum a large spoonful (a tablespoonful)  
cochl. mod. cochleare modicum a modest spoonful (a dessert-spoonful)  
cochl. parv. cochleare parvum a scant spoonful (a teaspoonful)  
colet. coletur let it be strained  
comp. compositus compound  
contin. continuetur let it be continued  
cpt. capiat let him take (let the patient take)  
cr., crm   cream  
CST   continue same treatment  
cuj. cujus of which  
c.v. cras vespere tomorrow evening  
cyath. cyathus a glassful  
cyath. vinos. cyathus vinosus a wine-glassful  
D, d. die [or]
days [or]
ambiguous meaning, write out "days" or "doses"
D5LR   dextrose 5% in lactated Ringer's solution (intravenous sugar solution)  
D5NS   dextrose 5% in normal saline (0.9%) (intravenous sugar solution)  
D5W, D5W   dextrose 5% in water (intravenous sugar solution)  
D10W, D10W   dextrose 10% in water (intravenous sugar solution)  
da da give  
DAW   dispense as written (i.e., no generic substitution)  
DC, dc, D/C, disc   discontinue [or]
ambiguous meaning
decoct. decoctum decoction  
det. detur let it be given  
dieb. alt. diebus alternis every other day; on alternate days  
dil.   dilute  
dim. dimidius one-half  
d. in p. . divide in partes quales divide into equal parts  
disp.   dispersible [or]
div. divide divide  
dL   deciliter  
d.t.d. dentur tales doses give of such doses  
DTO   deodorized tincture of opium can easily be confused with "diluted tincture of opium," which is 1/25th the strength of deodorized tincture of opium; deaths have resulted due to massive morphine overdose.[7] Compare laudanum and paregoric.
DW   distilled water [or]
dextrose in water (intravenous sugar solution)
elix. elixir elixir  
e.m.p. ex modo prescripto as directed (in the manner prescribed)  
emuls. emulsum emulsion  
et et and  
EOD   every other day  
ex aq. ex aqua in water  
exhib. exhibiatur let it be given  
f. fiat make; let it be made  
f.h. fiat haustus make a draught  
fl., fld. fluidus fluid (usually meaning specifically liquid in health care)  
f.m. fiat mistura make a mixture  
f. pil. fiat pilula make a pill  
f.s.a. fiat secundum artem make according to art  
ft. fiat make; let it be made  
g, gm   gram (modern SI symbol is g, not gm)  
garg. gargarisma gargle  
gr. granum grain  
gtt(s) gutta(e) drop(s)  
gutt. gutta(e) drop(s)  
H   hypodermic  
h, hr, hor. hora hour  
habt. habeat let him have  
hor. alt. hora alternis every other hour (every second hour; at alternate hours)  
hor. decub. hora decubitus at bedtime  
hor. intermed. horis intermediis at intermediate hours  
hor. tert. horis tertiis every third hour  
h.s. hora somni (at the hour of sleep) at bedtime [or]
ambiguous (2 meanings, easily conflated); spell out
IBW   ideal body weight (for dosing based on clearance estimation)  
ID   intradermal  
IJ, inj. injectio injection mistaken for "IV", meaning intravenously
IM   intramuscular  
IN   intranasal mistaken for "IM", meaning intramuscular, or "IV", meaning intravenously
ind. indies daily  
inf. infusum infusion (extraction) / intravenous infusion  
i unus tabuletta tablet  
ii duo tabuletta tablets  
iii tres tabuletta tablets  
IP   intraperitoneal  
IT   intrathecal mistaken for other abbreviations; spell out
IU   international unit mistaken for "IV" or "10", spell out "international unit"
IV   intravenous  
IVP   intravenous push  
IVPB   intravenous piggyback  
kg   kilogram  
LAS   label as such  
lat. dol. lateri dolenti to the painful side  
lb. libra pound  
l.c.d. liquor carbonis detergens coal tar solution  
lin linimentum liniment  
liq. liquor solution  
lot. lotio lotion  
M., m. misce mix  
mane mane in the morning  
max. maximum maximum  
mcg   microgram Recommended replacement for "g" which may be confused with "mg"
m.d.u. more dicto utendus to be used as directed  
mEq   milliequivalent  
mg   milligram  
mg/dL   milligrams per deciliter  
MgSO4   magnesium sulfate may be confused with "MSO4", spell out "magnesium sulfate"
min. minimum [or]
minim [or]
minimum [or]
minim [or]
mist. mistura mixture  
mit., mitt. mitte send  
mL   millilitre  
mod. prscript. modo prscripto in the manner directed  
MS   morphine sulfate or magnesium sulfate can mean either morphine sulfate or magnesium sulfate, spell out either
MSO4   morphine sulfate may be confused with "MgSO4", spell out "morphine sulfate"
nebul nebula a spray (such as for insufflation)  
NMT   not more than  
noct. nocte at night  
non rep. non repetatur no repeats (no refills)  
NPO, n.p.o. nil per os nothing by mouth AMA style avoids use of this abbreviation (spell out "nothing by mouth")
NS   normal saline (0.9%)  
1/2NS   half-normal saline (0.45%)  
NTE   not to exceed  
o 2, o2   both eyes "O2" usually means oxygen or oxygen therapy
o.d. omni die every day (once daily) (preferred to "qd" in the UK[8])  
o.d. oculus dexter right eye "o" can be mistaken as an "a" which could read "a.d.", meaning right ear, confusion with "omni die"
o.m. omni mane every morning  
omn. bih. omni bihora every 2 hours  
omn. hor. omni hora every hour  
o.n. omni nocte every night  
OPD   once per day  
o.s. oculus sinister left eye "o" can be mistaken as an "a" which could read "a.s.", meaning left ear
o.u. oculus uterque both eyes "o" can be mistaken as an "a" which could read "a.u.", meaning both ears
oz   ounce  
p. perstetur continue  
part. q. partes quales equal parts  
per per by or through  
p.c. post cibum after meals  
p.c.h.s., pc&hs post cibum et hora somni after meals and at bedtime  
Ph.Br., BP Pharmacopoeia Britannica British Pharmacopoeia  
Ph.Eur. Pharmacopoeia Europaea European Pharmacopoeia  
Ph.Int. Pharmacopoeia Internationalis International Pharmacopoeia  
pig./pigm. pigmentum paint  
p.m. post meridiem evening or afternoon  
p.o. per os by mouth or orally AMA style avoids use of this abbreviation (spell out "orally")
ppt. prparata prepared  
p.r., PR per rectum rectally  
p.r.n., PRN pro re nata as needed  
pt. perstetur continue  
pulv. pulvis powder  
p.v., PV per vaginam vaginally  
q quaque every, per  
q.1 h, q.1 quaque 1 hora every 1 hour (can replace "1" with other numbers)  
q4PM at 4 pm (can replace "4" with other numbers) mistaken to mean every 4 hours
q.a.d. quaque alternis die every other day  
q.a.m. quaque die ante meridiem every morning (every day before noon)  
q.d./q.1.d. quaque die every day mistaken for "QOD" or "qds," spell out "every day" or "daily". AMA style avoids use of this abbreviation (spell out "every day")
q.d.a.m. quaque die ante meridiem once daily in the morning  
q.d.p.m. quaque die post meridiem once daily in the evening  
q.d.s. quater die sumendus 4 times a day can be mistaken for "qd" (every day)
q.p.m. quaque die post meridiem every evening (every day after noon)  
q.h. quaque hora every hour  
q.h.s. quaque hora somni every night at bedtime can be mistaken as "q.h.r." (every hour)
q.i.d. quater in die 4 times a day can be mistaken for "qd" or "qod," write out "4 times a day". AMA style avoids use of this abbreviation (spell out "4 times a day")
q.l. quantum libet as much as is requisite  
q.n. quaque nocte every night can be mistaken as "q.h." (every hour)
q.o.d. quaque altera die every other day mistaken for "QD," spell out "every other day". AMA style avoids use of this abbreviation (spell out "every other day")
q.q.h. quater quaque hora every 4 hours  
q.s. quantum sufficiat (subjunctive), quantum sufficit (indicative) a sufficient quantity  
q.v. quantum volueris [or]
quod vide
at will [or]
which see
QWK   every week  
rep., rept. repetatur repeats  
RL, R/L   Ringer's lactate  
Rx, Rx, RX, Medical Recipe Symbol mod.JPG, ? recipe take (often effectively a noun meaning "prescription"medical prescription or prescription drug)  
rep. repetatur let it be repeated  
s. signa write (write on the label)  
s.a. secundum artem according to the art (accepted practice or best practice)  
SC   subcutaneous "SC" can be mistaken for "SL," meaning sublingual. See also SQ
sem. semen seed  
s.i.d. semel in die once a day used exclusively in veterinary medicine
sig. signa write (write on the label)  
s sine without (usually written with a bar on top of the "s")  
sing. singulorum of each  
SL, s.l. sub lingua sublingually, under the tongue  
SOB   shortness of breath  
sol. solutio solution  
s.o.s., si op. sit si opus sit if there is a need  
s.s., SS semisse one-half [or]
sliding scale
mistaken for "55" or "1/2"
SSI   sliding scale insulin or sliding scale regular insulin mistaken to mean "strong solution of iodine" or "selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor". See also SSRI
SQ   subcutaneously "SQ" can be mistaken for "5Q" meaning "5 every dose". See also SC
SSRI   selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor [or]
sliding scale regular insulin
ambiguous. Do not abbreviate
st. stet let it stand (for example, for settling)  
stat statim immediately  
SubQ   subcutaneously  
sum. sumat [or]
let him take [or]
let it be taken
supp. suppositorium suppository  
susp. suspensio suspension  
syr. syrupus syrup  
tab. tabella tablet  
tal., t. talus such  
tbsp   tablespoon  
t.d.s., TDS ter die sumendum 3 times a day  
t.i.d., t.d. ter in die 3 times a day AMA style avoids use of this abbreviation (spell out "3 times a day")
tinct. tinctura tincture  
t.i.w.   3 times a week mistaken for "twice a week"
top.   topical  
TPN   total parenteral nutrition  
tr, tinc., tinct. tinctura tincture  
trit. triturate grind to a powder  
troch. trochiscus lozenge  
tsp   teaspoon  
U   unit mistaken for a "4", "0" or "cc", spell out "unit"
u.d., ut. dict. ut dictum as directed  
ung. unguentum ointment  
USP   United States Pharmacopeia  
vag. vagine vaginally  
w   with  
w/a   while awake  
w/f   with food (with meals)  
w/o   without  
X, x   times  
YO, y.o.   years old  
g   microgram mistaken for "mg", meaning milligram
@   at mistaken for "2"; spell out "at"
>   greater than mistaken for a "7"
<   less than mistaken for an "L"
? libra pound  
? uncia ounce  
? drachma dram (drachm)  
? scrupulus scruple  

Send comments to co@dadbyrn.com, Colby Glass, MLIS, PhDc, Professor Emeritus