In a number of times, doctors use medical abbreviations in orders they use for medication. Different abbreviations are used in this matter. Most diseases have long names, therefore these calls for the use of medical abbreviations. Not doctors alone use these abbreviations but nurses and pharmacists also use them for communication purposes. Using abbreviations in a medical field has benefits and limitations (ISMP, 2010).
This normally depends on the type of information to be disseminated. Most of the medical terms used are normally complicated, very long and hard to spell. Therefore one benefit of using abbreviation is to avoid making mistakes while spelling out the names, the other benefits are, saving time; example in writing a word like Methylenedioxymethamphetamine and one has to write may be a report concerning the drug (ecstasy) it would be tiring and boring having to repeat the word every time, using the abbreviation MDMA will be much less time consuming easy to write and to say (ISMP, 2010). Using abbreviations also saves time when recording data and information.
The issue of time is paramount in the medical field because each and every second counts, so using abbreviation will save time hence saving the lives at stake. Another benefit of using abbreviations is that, when passing on information from one doctor to another using the patient as the messenger, the doctor may not want to disclose some information to the patient since it may have some adverse effect to the patient in question, therefore the doctor chooses to use abbreviations that will be understood by the other doctor and not the patient. Abbreviations also help the doctor to write their own note without using much space and time.
The common goal in each and every health care institution is the safety of their patients. Error caused by abbreviation is one of the major concerns in the safety of the patient. And the most common one is the medication error. The use of ambiguous medical notation is preventable but is the most common cause of medication error. There is a frequent misinterpretation of abbreviations, dose designation, and symbols leading to major mistakes that result in harming the patient. This also causes a delay in therapy commencement and also a lot of time is spent in clarification. Some abbreviation has multiple meanings and this may cause confusion and medical error (ISMP, 2010).
Use of abbreviation is a very dangerous approach since it increases the risk of medical errors. For instance ACT has 17 different meanings; therefore one can make a mistake by thinking that the other person on the other side was talking about activated coagulation time while in real sense the person was talking about activated clotting time (ISMP, 2010). Or the use of abbreviation like CAD which have different meaning like cold agglutinin disease, computer assisted diagnosis, computer assisted, coronary artery disease, cyclophosphamide adriamycin, cadaver, cytosine arabinoside, dacardazine and daunorubicin. It is very clear that one can make a mistake by miss interpretation what the abbreviation really mean (ISMP, 2010).
Eliminating the medical abbreviation would at least reduce medical errors, but in the actual sense doing away with abbreviations would make it difficult for medical practitioners who would have to write very long medical terms to perform their job effectively. This is the major reason unto why many medical organizations are coming up with written policies that state which abbreviation should be used or not be used at the same time training the medical professionals to write legibly when using other terminologies. Policy implementation is a great advantage medical field since it would assist in preventing errors and ensuring patient’s safety it also promotes effective and very safe communication among the healthcare team thus advocating for standardized healthcare system (ISMP, 2010).