The extensive use of medical abbreviations puts the patient at risk. Several misleading medical abbreviations have posed serious risks to numerous patients. It occurred since most of the prescriptions that occurred in form of abbreviation ended up being misconceived by the patient. Moreover, such misconceptions or misunderstandings led to adverse impacts on the patients at hand. Some misleading abbreviations put the lives of the patients at risk of death. In addition, other patients are unfortunate enough since they lose their lives due to this.
The use of abbreviations proceeds on undisputed due to various reasons. One of the main reasons why most of the physicians still prefer the use of abbreviations extensively includes the fact that they save time. At times, doctors and nurses have to handle large numbers of patients at a time. Therefore, such situations call for summarized methods of handling the patients in order to tend to all the patients. However, some of these abbreviations remain dangerous to the health of a patient. Thus, to enhance the safety while carrying out medical practices, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organization should see to it that these abbreviations get eliminated or minimized.
The elimination of abbreviations helps in reducing errors in numerous ways. A number of drugs have been associated with high medical risks to patients. For instance, cases of overdose occurred in a number of occasions. In addition, unexpected deaths also occurred due to abbreviated prescriptions. A good example of a drug that mostly associates with such medical accidents includes the Anticoagulant drugs. Labeling of certain drugs may not occur in a standardized way. Thus, confusion may arise. For instance, the abbreviations used for the Heparin flush syringes occur similar to those of the LMW Heparin syringe. Thus, misconceptions of such abbreviations may lead to overdose, and eventually death. When abbreviations are eliminated in giving prescriptions to patients, such cases of overdose or accidental loss of lives gets avoided. All patients or care- givers will comprehend well the type of drug being administered.
So far, policies that govern the use of medical abbreviations have not been formulated. However, fundamentally such policies occur in order to avoid risks associated with the use these abbreviations. Moreover, to suit both the patient and the physician, only the confusing abbreviations should face elimination while the crucial ones remain in use. Some of the policies include, referencing the ambiguous abbreviations in the process of prescribing drugs. Referencing helps to verify the names and contents of such drugs. The references may occur by means of internal communications. In addition, labels created in the computer may be applied.
Another policy would include the scrapping off the medical abbreviations that are not applicable in medical communications. It would occur by outlining a list of abbreviations that should not appear in any medicine prescription or communication.
Moreover, there would be body that deals in facilitation of use of certain abbreviations. An example of a body that would occur in such an instance includes a state accrediting body like JCAHO. Another policy would include the inspection and monitoring of physicians who still use the eliminated abbreviations in carrying out medical communications. The Health Information Management Department would perform such inspections.
The use of medical abbreviations is restricted to a particular group of expertise. In addition, these abbreviations get applied only at specific instances. These conditions occur due to the sensitivity involved in carrying out medical communications. Any unauthorized individual who might try to perform these communications may cause serious health defects to themselves or the patient. Abbreviations occur acceptable only when the physician understands their real meaning. On various occasions, confusions led to patients losing parts of their bodies through unnecessary surgeries.
Medical abbreviations should only be used by medical professionals while carrying out medical communications. It assists them in saving time since most medical terminologies appear very long. Thus, writing them in full would consume much time. For instance, instead of writing defects such as congestive heart failure in full, the physician may summarize it as “CHF.” However, these medical professionals should restrict themselves to the authorized list of abbreviations. Examples of these medical professionals include nurses, x- ray technicians, laboratory technicians and pharmacists.
According to the research carried out, it occurs clear that little has been done to reduce such errors. In the recent years, numerous cases of overdose and deaths occurred due to the use of confusing abbreviations. Further research has it that over 3% of errors encountered in health communications occurred due to the use of ambiguous abbreviations. Most drug names possess similar abbreviations that may lead to confusions in naming them. Abbreviations such as TOF tend to possess different meanings. This abbreviation may stand either for tracheo- oesophageal fistula or for tetralogy of fallot. Misinterpretation of such abbreviations could lead to administering of wrong medication to the patient. Thus, the patient encounters death risks.
Moreover, no standard list of abbreviations has occurred for use in medical communications. Some of the eliminated abbreviations still operate while the rates of medical errors rise. The MDU made endless efforts in advising medical professionals on the medical abbreviations to use. However, several physicians still apply these prohibited abbreviations in carrying out even the most crucial medical communications.
In conclusion, much should be done concerning the use of medical abbreviations. The negative impacts of using them are clear. Moreover, strict policies should occur to govern the use of these abbreviations. Failure to do this would expose the patients exposed to health risks. Finally, any medical professional found using prohibited medical abbreviations should face the rightful monitoring and inspection by the Health Information Management Department.