This article reviews common medical abbreviations that the Joint Commission has deemed potentially problematic, along with suggested alternatives.
Applies to all orders and all medication-related documentation that is handwritten (including free-text computer entry) or on pre-printed forms.
*Exception: A “trailing zero” may be used only where required to demonstrate the level of precision of the value being reported, such as for laboratory results, imaging studies that report size of lesions, or catheter/tube sizes. It may not be used in medication orders or other medication-related documentation.
Development of the “Do Not Use” List
In 2001, The Joint Commission issued a Sentinel Event Alert on the subject of medical abbreviations. A year later, its Board of Commissioners approved a National Patient Safety Goal requiring accredited organizations to develop and implement a list of abbreviations not to use. In 2004, The Joint Commission created its “Do Not Use” List to meet that goal. In 2010, NPSG.02.02.01 was integrated into the Information Management standards as elements of performance 2 and 3 under IM.02.02.01.