Understanding Prescription Abbreviations


You may have seen letters like Q. I. D. or b.i.d. in your prescriptions. These are abbreviations for Latin phrases.

Centuries ago, all recipes were written in Latin. Today, these abbreviations are only used in the instructions of the drug.

Your pharmacy will translate your treating doctor’s instructions on the medication label. However, sometimes an error can occur.

Many medicines like arthritis medications or painkillers. it can be dangerous if you take the wrong dose. Knowing how to read prescription abbreviations can protect you from dangerous mistakes.

In this article, we will discuss the Latin abbreviations that health professionals use in prescriptions and help you learn how to translate them. You will also discuss steps you can take to protect yourself from medication prescribing errors.

Learn about Medications / Ellen Lindner

Origin of ” Rx “as short for”Prescription”

Rx is an acronym for”recipe”. Most people think it comes from the Latin word “recipe,” which means “to drink.”

According to another theory, the Rx symbol is based on the Roman Deity Jupiter. The Jupiter symbol was similar to the Rx symbol. The symbol may have been placed in a recipe to invoke Jupiter’s blessing.

Example of prescription abbreviations

Here’s an example of what a health care provider can write on a prescription:

Sig: 1 po QID PC and hs tab

These abbreviations are instructions for taking the medicine. The pharmacist will translate them for the drug label. In this case, the instruction will be: “Take one tablet orally four times a day, after meals and before bedtime.”

Abbreviations may be case-sensitive and may or may not include periods.

Common Latin Terms Rx

Some common abbreviations for Latin recipes include:

  • ac (about cibum) means “before eating”.
  • betting (bis in a cube) means “twice a day”
  • gt (Gutta) means”fall”
  • XS (disambiguationChora Somni) means “before bedtime”.
  • od (oculus terrestris) means “right eye”
  • os (oculus rift) means “left eye”
  • rb (for you) means “through the mouth”
  • PC (post cibum) means “after eating”.
  • prn (pro re cream) means “as required”
  • q3h (quaque 3 hours) means”every three hours”
  • qd (quaque die) means “every day”
  • qid (Room in a bucket) means “four times a day”
  • Gis (Signa) means”write”
  • tid (ter in die) means “three times a day”

Reject the use of abbreviations

Latin terms are still used, but some health professionals reject them. It is increasingly common for health professionals to write prescription instructions in simple language.

Legible prescriptions can help prevent medication errors. That’s why many health care professionals believe written instructions should be used instead of hard-to-read abbreviations.

For example, the acronym qd, which means “daily”, can be confused with qid, which means”four times a day”. It can also be confused with an overdose, which means “right eye.” Simply writing “daily” avoids confusion.

E-prescribing or e-prescribing can also help prevent medication errors. instructions sent directly to the pharmacy electronically are less prone to human error. If your health care provider uses an electronic prescription drug, you may never see the abbreviations.

E-prescribing improves patient safety in several ways:

  • This eliminates hard-to-read recipes.
  • This reduces the need for verbal communication, which can lead to mistakes.
  • This could let the health care provider know if a patient has a medicine allergy.
  • This can alert the health care provider to possible drug interactions.
  • A health care provider can easily view a patient’s medication history.


Health care professionals sometimes use Latin abbreviations in prescriptions. Understanding these contractions can help you avoid making a mistake when taking medications.

Some health care professionals move away from Latin abbreviations and use simple language instead. Written instructions can help prevent medication errors. E-prescriptions can also reduce the possibility of error.

A Few Words From Get Meds Info

If you get a written prescription, make sure you understand the instructions. If the instructions are confusing or confusing, ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain. Do not take medicines if you do not understand the instructions. Don’t take any chances.

If your medication is prescribed electronically, you may not see the instructions until they appear on the label. At this point, it is important to consult your pharmacist if you have questions. It is always a good idea to consult your pharmacist’s instructions. Contribute to avoid medication mistakes.

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