Drug Orders Cheat Sheet

A drug order, also called a medical prescription, is an instruction from a provider to give a patient medication. Providers such as a physician, dentist, podiatrist, advanced practice nurse (in most states), and other authorized licensed healthcare providers can write a drug order. Physician assistants can also write a drug order but require the co-signature of a physician.

All drug orders are written on a prescription pad or on an order sheet if written in a healthcare institution. Sometimes orders are written into a computerized drug order system. A verbal drug order is sometimes given but must be followed up with a written drug order within 24 hours.

         Abbreviations used in Drug Orders

 

Direction

L (in circle)Left
 R (in a circle) Right

Dose       

AaOf each
 C‾With
 DS Double stre
 elix. Elixir
 fl or fld. Fluid
 GttDrop
 NS or N/S Normal saline
 q.s.

 

A sufficient amount/ as much as needed/ quantity sufficient
 S‾Without
 SS or ss One half
 SR Sustained release
 XL Long acting
 XR Extended releaseExtended release

Form    

  
 amp

aq

c

cap or caps

EC

Mix

 sol or soln

supp

susp

syp or syr

tab

Tr or tinct

ung. or oint

ampule

Water

Cup

Capsule

Enteric coated

Mixture

Solution

Suppository

Suspension

Syrup

Tablet

Tincture

Ointment

Method     

  
 gt or GT

I.D.

I.M.

I.V.

IVPB

IVSS

KVO

 

NGT

n.p.o

Per

Per os or p.o.

p.r.

s.c or S.C. or s.q.*

sl or SL

S&S

vag

 

Gastrostomy tube

Intradermal

Intramuscular

Intravenous

Intravenous piggyback

Intravenous soluset

Keep vein open (a vey slow infusion rate)

Nasogastric tube

Nothing by mouth

Through or by

By or through mouth

By rectum

Subcutaneous

Sublingual

Swish and swallow

Vaginally

 

Part   

  
 A.D. or AD* Right ear
 A.S. or AS* Left ear
 A.U. or AU* Both ears
 OD* Right eye
 os*Mouth
 OS* Left eye
 OU* Both eyes
 Rect* Rectum

Time   

  
 a‾Before
 ad.lib As desired
 b.i.d. or bid Twice a day
 d.c. or D/C Discontinue
 h or hr Hour
 h.s. At bed time
 min Minute
 o.d. or OD Once a day
 pAfter
 p.c. After meals
 p.r.n. When necessary
 q.

q.a.m.

q.d. or qd*

q.h. or qh

q2h, q4h

 

qhs or q.h.s.*

q.i.d. or qid

q.o.d. or qod*

s.o.s

stat or STAT

t.i.d. or tid

 t.i.w.*

Every, each

Every morning

Every day or once a day

Every hour

Every two hours, every four hours

Every night at bedtime

Four times a day

Every other day

Once if necessary

Immediately or at once

Three times a day

Three times a week

Drug orders are written using the abbreviations  that you should need to know shown in Table and must contain:

  • Date and time the order (prescription) was issued.
  • Name of drug and whether or not a generic form of the drug can be substituted for a brand-name drug.
  • Drug dose.
  • Route of administration.
  • Frequency and duration of administration.
  • Special instructions such as withholding or adjusting dosage based on nursing assessment, laboratory results, or drug effectiveness.
  • Signature of the prescriber.
  • Signature of the healthcare providers who took the order and transcribed it.

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