Abbreviations for disease states and physiologic states relevant to
ADD Attention Deficit Disorder
ASHD Arteriosclerotic Heart Disease
BM Bowel movement
BP Blood Pressure
BPM Beats per Minute
BS Blood Sugar
Ca Cancer, carcinoma
CHD Coronary Heart Disease
CHF Congestive Heart Failure
CVA Cerebral Vascular Accident, stroke
DM Diabetes Mellitus
GERD Gastro-esophageal Reflux Disease
ERD End Stage Renal Disease
HBP, HTN High Blood Pressure, Hypertension
HR Heart Rate
IDD Insulin Dependent Diabetes
MAP Mean Arterial Pressure
N&V, N/V Nausea and Vomiting
NIDD Non Insulin Dependent Diabetes
PA wedge Pressure, wedge pressure Pulmonary artery wedge pressure
SOB Shortness of Breath
Temp Body Temperature
URI Upper Respiratory Infection
UTI Urinary Tract Infection
Abbreviations for Dosage Forms Found in Inscription, Subscription or
amp. Ampule. A hermetically sealed glass vessel containing a sterile drug solution
usually used parenteral administration. The ampule is broken and the solution
drawn into a syringe under aseptic conditions just prior to administration.
Ampules are always single dose units. Vials are glass containers with a rubber
stopper through which a hypodermic needle can be inserted to remove its
contents. Vials can be either single use or multiple use depending on whether
a bacteriostatic preservative is present in the solution.
cap. Capsule. A shell usually made of gelatin that contains the active ingredients
in powder or liquid form. When the capsule is swallowed, the gelatin dissolves
in the acid environment of the stomach releasing the material inside.
chart. A divided powder, powder in a paper. The drug or drug mixture is wrapped in
folded paper. The patient unfolds the paper and transfers the contents to a
tablespoon or a glass and dissolves the contents in water. This solution is
swallowed and washed down with water. Archaic dosage form.
cr., crm. Cream. A semisolid preparation containing drug intended for application to
body surfaces like the skin. Creams are heterogenous systems (an oil in water
mixture) whose continuous phase is either aqueous or water soluble. Creams
absorb into the skin leaving little oily residue.
elix. Elixir. An oral solution containing drug, water, and some alcohol. When the
active ingredients are dissolved exclusively in alcohol the dosage form is
called a Spirit.
emul. Emulsion. A liquid, heterogenous dosage form in which a liquid oil is usually
dispersed in a continuous aqueous phase. Usually the drug is dissolved in the
internal oil phase. When an emulsion is used topically it is frequently called
a lotion. (Topical lotions may also be called suspensions)
Liq. A solution
Lot. A lotion.
pulv., A bulk powder. Applied directly to the skin from the container.
sol. Solution. A solution of drug usually in water. May be taken by mouth or
applied to skin depending on indication.
supp., Suppository. Firm semisolid dosage forms that are designed to be inserted into
sup., a particular body opening. The semisolid vehicle melts at body temperature
suppos releasing the incorporated drug into the local body fluids. Rectal and vaginal
suppositories are most common.
susp. Suspension. A liquid, heterogenous dosage form in which a solid is dispersed
in the liquid. Usually the drug is not dissolved in the dosage form. When
the suspension is used topically it is frequently called a lotion.
syr. Syrup. A solution that is sweet and highly viscous.
tab. Tablet. A compressed tablet of drug and other excipients which can only be
manufactured on an industrial scale. Tablets are designed to break up into
fragments when they enter the stomach or other body fluid allowing the drug to
come into contact with the fluid, and dissolve. Tablets are not pills. Pills
are an older type of preparation not commonly used anymore, and have a round
shape (exception - colchicine is dispensed as pills). A Sublingual Tablet
(tab SL. or SL) is designed to be dissolved under the tongue. A sublingually
administered drug is intended to be absorbed across the oral mucosa avoiding
gastrointestinal-hepatic degradation prior to entry into general circulation
(Example Nitroglycerine Sublingual Tablet). Sublingual tablets should not be
tinc., Tincture. A solution containing a lot of alcohol, although other solvents may
tr., be present. Tinctures usually contain drug at high concentrations.
ung, Ointment. A semisolid preparation containing drug intended for application to
unguetum, body surfaces like the skin. Ointments unlike creams are continuous oil based
oint. systems. Ointments generally leave an oily residue on the applied surface for
a longer time than creams.
Abbreviations Related to the Directions for the Pharmacist - The
disp. Dispense. Provide to the patient.
div. # Divide. The formula refers to the total amount to be made. Divide the
formula into the specified number of dosage units.
d.t.d. # Give such doses. The formula refers to a single dose. Prepare and dispense
a specified number of doses.
ex. aqua in water
f., ft. Make. Prepare
M Mix the contents of the formula
N.B. Note Well!!! Pay attention to this.
No., # Number of units to be prepared or dispensed.
S.A., According to the art. A vague phrase meaning roughly "use your skill and
tal. dos. such doses
Abbreviations used in the directions to the patient or instructions to care
providers - The Signa
Sig. write the following directions on the label
ad up to, don't confuse with right ear (a.d.)
c, cum with
dil. dilute, for example: dil. 5 ml in 6 oz. OJ (orange juice)
D/C, D.C. Discontinue
e.m.p., ut as directed, in the manner prescribed
NMT not more than
NPO Nothing by Mouth. The patient is to receive nothing orally
non rep, do not repeat, (also, no refills when not in Sig.)
rep repeat, (also, refill when not in Sig.)
s, sine, s without
Abbreviations frequently used in the Prescription Formula - The
aa., or aa of each. Used when two or more ingredients are present in the same amount.
They are listed sequentially with the symbol placed next to the last item of
the group which it refers.
ad to, up to. don't confuse with a.d. - right ear
ASA aspirin. an analgesic.
aq., aqua. water, drinking water. Never used in making prescriptions.
aq. dest. distilled water, deionized water used in prescriptions. Prepared by
aq. pur. purified water USP, An official deionized water used in prescription
q.s. a sufficient quantity. Calculate and add the appropriate quantity to make
the prescription. Example: the amount of lactose needed to fill capsules.
q.s. ad a sufficient quantity up to. Add sufficient quantity to achieve a specified
total weight or volume. Example: amount of water needed to make 240 ml of
aa q.s. ad a sufficient quantity of each up to. Used when more than one substance is
to be added in equal quantities to achieve a specified total weight or
volume. For example calculate the amount of Lanolin and Petrolatum to make
60 g of ointment.
D5W Dextrose Injection USP, a sterile isotonic IV Fluid (5% dextrose in water)
HC Hydrocortisone, a steroid hormone
inj. Injection, indicating that the injection dosage form is to be used.
MS Morphine Sulfate. A narcotic analgesic
NF Natural Formulary, Indicates the ingredient should conform standards
prescribed in the official NF compendium
NS, N.S. Sodium Chloride Solution USP, a sterile, isotonic IV fluid (0.9% NaCl in
1/2NS 0.45% Sodium Chloride for Injection, a sterile IV fluid
NTG Nitroglycerine, a drug to treat angina pectoris, and other cardiovascular
TPN Total Parental Nutrition, an intravenous feeding fluid containing
carbohydrates, amino acids, electrolytes, and sometimes lipids.
USP United States Pharmacopeia, Indicates the ingredient should conform
standards prescribed in the official USP compendium.
Units of Measure used in the Inscription-Subscription1
cc., cc cubic centimeter, USP states 1 cc is equivalent to 1 ml
fl, fld. specifies that the measure is a fluid measure
g., Gm. Gram, NB don't confuse with gr.
gr., gr Grain, NB don't confuse with g.
gtt. Drop, In general not a rigidly standardized measure. Modern preparations
are dispensed with the calibrated dropper included with the manufactured
Minum, NB Don't confuse with ml
mcg., mcg Microgram, NB don't confuse with mg.
mg., mg Milligram, NB don't confuse with mcg
ml., mL. Milliliter, USP states that 1 cc is equivalent to 1 ml, NB, don't confuse
mOsm, mOsmol Milliosmole
O. Apothecary pint
parts Some formulas indicate the ratio of ingredient quantities to each other. In
a formula given in terms of parts by weight, any unit of weight may be used,
but it must be applied to all components. In a formula given in parts by
volume, any unit of volume may be used, provide that all components have the
Ratio Ratio strength is a way of representing the concentration of a formula
Strength component. It is denoted in terms of total amount of solution or mixture
that contains one unit of solute. A 1:25 solution of cinnamon oil means
that 1 ml of cinnamon oil is contained in each 25 ml of solution. N.B. the
second number in the ratio does not describe the quantity of solvent, but
the total quantity of solution. If the solute is a liquid the solution is
assumed to be a v/v mixture. For solid solutes its assumed to be a w/v
mixture. When the denominator of the ratio is 100, the concentration is
denoted as Percentage Strength.
ss., ss one half
tbl. tablespoonful, a household measure, nominal value 15 ml.
tsp. teaspoonful, a household measure, nominal value, 5 ml
U, u, I.U. Unit, International Unit. potency of many antibiotics and endocrine
preparations are expressed in terms of official USP units. These units are
specific for each substance and determined by an official USP biological
1. NB. Sometimes the unit abbreviations for quantities are absent in the formula. When
absent, units for weight are presumed to be gram, g, and for volume presumed to be
Abbreviations used in the directions to the patient or instructions to care
providers concerning Dose and Dosing Frequency - The Signa
ad lib., prn use when or as needed. Ex. 1 cap hs prn sleep
a.c. before meals. Take before meals. Usually used in conjunction with q.d.,
a.m. morning, before midday
q4h every 4 hours, Also specified by the degree symbol. Ex. q 4deg.
q.d. every day, take one dose a day
q.o.d. every other day, Take one dose every other day
bid twice a day, Take one dose twice a day. N.B. does not mean every 12 hours.
Loosely means morning and evening.
tid three times a day, NB. Take one dose three times a day. N.B. does not mean
very 8 hours. Loosely means morning, evening, and night.
qid four times a day. NB. Take one dose four times a day. N.B. does not mean
every 6 hours. Loosely means morning, afternoon, evening, and night.
t.i.w. three times a week, Take a dose three times a week. For example M, W, F
h.s. at bed time. Take at bedtime
ATC around the clock, Doses administered at equal time intervals. Ex: q. 6 h.
m2, M2 square meter
BSA body surface area
p.c. after meals. Take after meals. Usually used in conjunction with q.d., bid,
p.m. evening, afternoon, after midday
STAT immediately, give at once
s.o.s. if there is need. Administer again if required. Example: MS 2 mg IV STAT
and q 30 min s.o.s. bucking ventilator
Abbreviations used to indicate Route of Administration or Administration
a.d. right ear, (the dexter ear)
a.s. left ear, (the sinister ear)
a.u. both ears
Aur ear, ears
IA intraarterially, inject into artery
ID intradermal, inject into skin
IM intramuscular, inject into muscle
IV intravenous, inject or infuse into vein, rate specified. For intravenous
fluid therapy IV also refers to the infusion fluid. IV bottles are
consecutively numbered. Ex: IV #10 NS 1000 mL @ 125 cc/h, IV #11 D5W
1000 mL @ 125/hr
IMP, IV bolus intravenous push, a rapid injection into vein
IVPB intravenous piggy back. infuse solution into primary intravenous infusion,
rate specified Ex: Ampicillin 250 mg IVPB over 30 min q 6 h
KVO keep vein open. A slow infusion. The rate is set by institution policy
or specified used to maintain an intravenous catheter patent.
via Hep Loc Inject through heparin lock. A small indwelling intravenous cannula
filled with a dilute heparin solution to maintain patency. After
injection, the heparin lock needs to be flushed and refilled with a dilute
o.d. right eye (the dexter eye) in the right eye
o.l., o.s. left eye, (the sinister eye) in the left eye
o.u. both eyes, in each eye
p.o., per os by mouth, take orally
R, pro rect. rectal
SL sublingual, Place under tongue and allow to dissolve
subq., s.c. subcutaneously, inject below the skin
top topically, apply locally to affected area
1. NB. The oral route is always assumed if no route is specified for a drugs which can
be administered orally. If it is not possible to give the drug orally, (i.e. NPO), the
alternative route must be explicitly specified by the prescriber.
ANATOMY OF A PRESCRIPTION
CHECKING THE DEA NUMBER
* All physician DEA bumbers begin with TWO LETTERS.
* The FIRST LETTER is always A or B.
* The SECOND LETTER is the first letter of the physicians LAST
* Add digits 1, 3, 5
* Add digits 2, 4, 6 and multiply by 2.
* Add the two totals.
* The LAST digit of the sum is the same as the last digit of the DEA
Take DEA # AH0354213 from Dr. Alfred K.
Is the 1st letter A or B? Yes, it's A
Does the 2nd letter the same as 1st letter of the Yes, it's H
physician's last name?
Add 1st, 3rd and 5th digit: 0 + 5 + 2 = 7
Add 2nd, 4th and 6th digits and multiply by two (3 + 4 + 1) x 2 = 16
Add the two totals 7 + 16 = 23
Is the last digit of the sum the same as the last digit of Yes
the DEA #