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Medical Abbreviations Explaining

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Many things could go wrong in any career but is crucial to try to avoid any mistakes especially in a healthcare setting. It someone’s life and health you are responsible for. I have seen first hand the effects of carelessness had on a patient. My sister was only 22 and was going in to have her appendix removed, and instead they removed her fallopian tubes! It all boiled down to a nurse, who was working overtime, mixed my sister’s chart up with another patient. My cousin was rushed to the emergency room and in ICU for 2 weeks because a doctor had left part of a sponge inside her whenever she was having a hysterectomy. It is so scary to think about things like this happening. These are called “never-events”, because they are serious incidents that should have never happened and could have been prevented (Reid, 2013).

If these two accidents happened with someone making an error with a chart or not paying good enough attention (WHILE ACTUALLY PERFORMING THE SURGERY), imagine the problems that could happen if someone was reading a chart and mixed up abbreviations. While these two incidents that happened didn’t involve confusion of an abbreviation, it very well could have been. I think it would be easier to make the mistake of confusing an abbreviation than it would be to forget a sponge inside someone!

While physicians using medical abbreviations could make their work flow more efficient and perform more work in less time, it can also cause problems like crypticness and ambiguity (Tulane University School of Medicine, 2012). I have gotten written prescriptions or doctor instructions many times and not been able to read them. It always made me wonder how the pharmacists could read them sometimes. I can see why certain abbreviations could be fatal. In 2007, the National Academies of Science’s Institute of Medicine (IOM), a doctors illegible handwriting (many errors from unclear abbreviations and dosages) is responsible for more than 7,000 deaths and injure more than 1.5 million people annually (Caplan, 2007). Some doctors have now swapped from pen and paper, to electronic prescriptions. 90% of approximately 550,000 doctors have access to the internet, but less than 10% of them have started using e-prescription systems (Caplan, 2007).

Although most are honest mistakes, it is still something that could be prevented. I think it is worth taking the extra time to write out something, if it meant life or death of a patient. No matter the amount of time someone saves by cutting corners, it will NEVER be worth more than someone else’s life.

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Medical Abbreviations Explaining. (2019, May 14). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 17, 2022, from
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