A Guide to Pharmacy Abbreviations

Once you have decided to be a Pharmacist you will be reading a lot of prescriptions. All of these prescriptions are not well written and majority of them uses a lot of abbreviations.

 If you are a student you might be well aware of the abbreviations as they are often asked in exams and terms in Pharmacy schools and colleges.

Later one when we step behind the counter for refilling these prescriptions we might face a lot of difficulty to understand what a doctor wants to write for his patient.

 All of these abbreviations can be learnt in an easy way but with a practice and always double checking with Pharmacists in charge. For a head start you can refer to the table below.

 This can be taken as a beginner's guide for fresh pharmacy graduates, technicians, nurses to help them understand for a proper medicine administration.

Pharmacy Prescription Abbreviations 

Abbreviation
Meaning
Notes
aa
of each
Derived from Latin, ana
AAA
apply to affected area

a.c.
before meals
Derived from Latin, ante cibum
a.d.
right ear
Derived from Latin, auris dextra
ad lib.
as much as desired; freely
Derived from Latin, ad libitum (“at one’s pleasure”)
a.m.
morning; before noon
Derived from Latin, ante meridiem
amp.
ampule

amt.
amount

APAP
acetaminophen

aq.
water
Derived from Latin, aqua
a.s.
left ear
Derived from Latin, auris sinistra
ATC
around the clock

a.u.
both ears
Derived from Latin, auris utraque
bib.
drink
Derived from Latin, bibe
b.i.d.
twice a day
Derived from Latin, bis in die
BP
blood pressure

bucc.
inside cheek
Derived from Latin, bucca
c.
with
Derived from Latin, cum; often written with a bar above it
cc
cubic centimeter (cm3)
Less commonly used as an abbreviation for cum cibo (“with food”)
cap.
capsule

cm
centimeter
Also used as an abbreviation for cream
d.
day
Derived from Latin, dies
DAW
dispense as written

d.c.; d/c
discontinue

dil.
dilute

disp.
dispense

div.
divide

dL
deciliter

DR
delayed-release

EC
enteric-coated

EOD
every other day

ER; XR
extended-release

et
and
Derived from Latin, et
f., ft.
make; let it be made
Derived from Latin, fiat
fl.
fluid

FXD
for 10 days
X = Roman numeral for 10
g, gm
gram

gal
gallon

gr.
grain

gtt.
drop
Derived from Latin, gutta
h., hr., hor.
hour
Derived from Latin, hora
HCT; HCTZ
hydrochlorothiazide

h.s.
at bedtime
Derived from Latin, hora somni (“at the hour of sleep”)
ID
intradermal

IM
intramuscular

IN
intranasal

inf.
infusion

inh.
inhalation

inj.
injection

IR
immediate-release

IU
international unit

IV
intravenous

K
potassium

kg
kilogram

L
liter

lb
pound
Derived from Latin, libra
liq.
liquid

lot.
lotion

m
meter

max.
maximum

mcg; μg
microgram
μ = Greek letter mu
MDP
Medrol Dosepak
Pre-dosed packaging of methylprednisolone (Medrol)
mg
milligram

min.
minimum

mL
milliliter

mm
millimeter

neb.
nebulizer

NSAID
nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug
Drug class that includes ibuprofen (Motrin)
o.d.
right eye
Derived from Latin, oculus dexter
ODT
oral disintegrating tablet

oint.
ointment

o.s.
left eye
Derived from Latin, oculus sinister
OTC
over the counter

o.u.
both eyes
Derived from Latin, oculus uterque
oz
ounce

PA
prior authorization

p.c.
after meals
Derived from Latin, post cibum
p.m.
evening; after noon
Derived from Latin, post meridiem
p.o.
by mouth; orally
Derived from Latin, per os
p.r.
rectally
Derived from Latin, per rectum
p.r.n.
as needed (for)
Derived from Latin, pro re nata
pt
pint

p.v.
vaginally
Derived from Latin, per vaginam
q
every; per
Derived from Latin, quaque
q12; q. 12 h.; q12°
every 12 hours
12 can be substituted with any number
q1-2; q. 1-2 h.; q1-2°
every 1 to 2 hours
1 and 2 can be substituted with any number
q.a.d.; q.o.d.
every other day
Derived from Latin, quaque alternis die
q.a.m.
every morning; every day before noon
Derived from Latin, quaque anti meridiem
q.d.
every day
Derived from Latin, quaque die
q.h.s.
every day at bedtime
Derived from Latin, quaque hora somni
q.i.d.
4 times a day
Dervied from Latin, quater in die
qt
quart

qty.
quantity

q.p.m.
every evening; every day after noon
Derived from Latin, quaque post meridiem
q.s.
a sufficient quantity
Derived from Latin, quantum sufficiat
q.w.
every week

Rx
prescription
Derived from Latin, recipere (‘to take”)
s.
without
Derived from Latin, sine; often written with a bar above it
SC; SQ; SubQ
subcutaneous

sig.
write; label
Derived from Latin, signa
SL; s.l.
sublingually; under the tongue

SOB
shortness of breath

sol.
solution

SSRI
selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor
Drug class that includes escitalopram (Lexapro) and fluoxetine (Prozac)
stat.
immediately
Derived from Latin, statim
supp.
suppository

susp.
suspension

syr.
syrup

tab.
tablet

TAD
take as directed

tbsp
tablespoon

t.i.d.
3 times a day
Derived from Latin, ter in die
top.
topical

troch.
lozenge
Derived from Latin, trochiscus
tsp
teaspoon

U
unit

u.d., ut. dict.
as directed
Derived from Latin, ut dictum
ung.
ointment
Derived from Latin, unguentum
w.
with

w/f
with food; with meals

w/o
without

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