Reading Medical Prescription Abbreviations…Is It That Greek?

by admin on 12/05/2009

Learn some of the most commonly used medical prescription abbreviations used in the eye doctor’s office!


In some ocular professions, it is a requirement to know tons of medical abbreviations.  Some medical professions require more knowledge than others, however, for the most part, all – including ocular professions – need to know more than just a few.

There are many reasons for having to learn very specific abbreviations as they assist in record keeping at in a very fast paced medical world. Most of the time, diagnoses are very long and doctor dictations can be even longer, therefore, knowing a sort of short hand for it all is a requirement.  For example, a scribe in a doctor’s office generally must write down all important information while in the room with the Ophthalmologist.  This written information isn’t anything in general by any means, but the very detailed treatment, words and explanations that the doctor is doing and giving to the patient.  A word such as Keratoconjunctivitis sicca may be spoken in a long sentence with another huge medial diagnosis, and the scribe doesn’t have the time to scribble down every single letter in such lengthy words.  Instead, keratoconjunctivitis sicca would be written in short as K-Sicca.  Simple.

Medical abbreviations and symbols are fairly universal, therefore, if you travel from the south to the north of America, well, things don’t change.  Therefore, it is best to learn them as if working anywhere in the healthcare professions, one will be sure to come across these short, yet meaningful, ways of written expression.

Some common to the ocular world are:

OD     right eye

OS      left eye

OU     both eyes

Rx      prescription

ung    ointment

Sol     solution

bid     twice a day

tid      three times a day

qid     four times a day

qh      every hour

prn    as needed

hs       at bedtime

gtt      drops

qqh    four times a day

po       by mouth

The abbreviations are not diagnoses but are used mostly in prescriptions that go along with treatments.  Now that one can see how medical professions make sense of what is written, it really isn’t so Greek after all!

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