Understanding the Meaning of Abbreviations Used in Prescription Drugs

We have heard of errors made in filling prescriptions because of the difficulty pharmacists have in reading the physician's handwriting, or because certain drugs have similar names. This should alert all of us to check and understand what is written on your doctor's prescription before giving it to the pharmacist. Remember to ask the physician about any questions that you may have about the prescription he is giving you. In order to help our readers decipher their prescription we are presenting a table of common terms found on a prescription and their meaning.

Term Abbreviation Meaning
ante cibum ac before meals
bis in die bid twice a day
gutta gt drop
hora somni hs at bedtime
oculus dexter od right eye
oculus sinister os left eye
per os po by mouth
post cibum pc after meals
pro re nata prn as needed
quaque 3 hora q3h every 3 hours
quaque die qd every day
quater in die qid 4 times a day
ter in die tid 3 times a day
c   with
milligrams mg  
milliliters ml  


Abbreviation Latin English

Abs. feb absente febre when fever is absent

A. c. Ante cibum before meals

Ad grat acid Ad gratam aciditatem to an agreeeable sourness

Ad 2 vic Ad duas vices for two doses

Aggred. feb Aggrediente febre while fever is coming on

Al. dieb Alterius diebus every other day

Alt. hor. Alterius horis every other hour

Alv. deject Alvi dejectiones the intestinal evacuations

Aq. asir Aqua astricta ice

A. S. Auris sinistra left ear

Bib Bibe Drink

Cap. Capiat let him take

Cib Cibus food

C. m. Cras mane tomorrow morning

C. m. s. Cras mane sumendus to be taken tomorrow morning

Col. Cola strain

Collut. Collutorium a mouth wash

Collyr. Collyrium an eye wash

Cyath Cyathus a glassful

De d. in d. De die in diem from day to day

Fract. dos Fracta dosi in divided doses

Guttat. Guttatim by drops

Hd. Hors decubitus at bedtime

In d. In die daily

Lat. dol Lateri dolenti to the painful side

Mor. dict. More dicto in the manner directed

Noct. Nocte at night

P. c. Post cibum after a meal

P. r. n. Pro re nata when required

Q. q. h. Quaque quarta hora every fourth hour

Rx Recipe take

St Stet let it stand

Ut dict Ut dictum as directed

Q. h. Quaque hora every hour

People over 65 years of age use about one-third of all prescription drugs and almost half of the over-the-counter (OTC) drug purchases. They should know all the medications they are taking by name and communicate this information to their physician. If you are not sure ask your physician for written instructions on how to take the medication. The information should include guidelines on when to take medication as well as what to do if a dosage is skipped. Ask if there is anything you should avoid while you are on the medication. Be aware of any potential side or interaction effects with other prescription and OTC medications that you may be taking. An informed consumer is a necessary step in the process of recovery from illness.

Please see: Medical Abbreviations found in Medical Charts-Part II
Medical Abbreviations- Part III

" How to Select a Nursing Home"

Harold Rubin, MS, ABD, CRC, Guest Lecturer
February 20, 2005

e-mail: hrubin12@nyc.rr or

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