Medical Abbreviations

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Patient safety is a common goal in every healthcare institution. One of the major issues in a patient safety is an error that can be caused by an abbreviations. The most common is medication errors. One of the most common but preventable causes of medication errors is the use of ambiguous medical notations. Some abbreviations, symbols, and dose designations are frequently misinterpreted and lead to mistakes that result in patient harm. They can also delay the start of therapy and waste time spent in clarification.

Eliminating medical abbreviations would reduce errors but if abbreviations were eliminated it would make it very difficult on medical professionals who would have to write out very lengthy medical terms. That's why many organizations are developing written policies stating which abbreviations should not be used and medical professionals are trained to write legible when using other abbreviations.

The use of the a policy is of great advantage to the healthcare system. It would help patient safety because of the prevention of errors. It promotes safe and efficient communication between the healthcare team. It would also help standardized the healthcare system.

Acceptable abbreviations have been studies by a few organizations. JCAHO (Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations) provides institutions with a list of dangerous abbreviations that should be avoided in clinical documentation. Also, ISMP (Institute for Safe Medication Practice) promotes the consistent application of not using specified abbreviations to prevent errors. The policy recommends not using abbreviations, symbols and acronyms in medical communication. According to ISMP, abbreviations should never be used in "internal external communication, telephone/verbal prescriptions, computer generated labels, labels for drug storage bins, medication administration records, as well as pharmacy and prescriber computer order entry screens." With the use of these...
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