• How can eliminating abbreviations reduce errors?
The use of abbreviations shortens length of many words thus really help healthcare professionals in saving time spent in writing notes. Abbreviations however do not always provide positive contributions due to misconceptions, misunderstandings, and misinterpretations leading to commitment of errors in the practice. Similarities in abbreviations for instance could root to a grave mistake. For instance the q.d. which an inscriber would like to indicate as every day could be erroneously interpreted as q.i.d. which means four times a day. Such error could result to over dosage when a certain medication is taken four times in a day instead of just once. Though some abbreviations can be easily understood clearly and exactly as to what meaning they communicate, the use of abbreviations generally invite error potentials particularly the error-prone abbreviations (ISMP, 2007) which can be best avoided by eliminating abbreviations.
•Should written policies be developed for abbreviation usage? If yes, what should the policies contain?
Despite of errors that can be potentially generated by using abbreviations , the use of such shortened form of inscribing some words and medical orders has been a part of the practice and has not been eradicated. It would be therefore for the best and benefit of everyone to be well guided by written policies on usage of abbreviations. Standard policies on abbreviation usage have been developed by organizations such as The Joint Commission (ISMP, 2007). The JCAHO has been also striving to reach out to the healthcare professionals and organizations to help in elimination of errors rooting from the use of abbreviations (AARC, 2005). Organizations would also enhance safety in using abbreviations by developing policies on usage of abbreviations. Policies would need to provide lists of accepted abbreviations and their standard meaning. That would be one of the best ways of preventing creation of abbreviations or assigning different meaning on a certain standard abbreviation. Despite of universal standard policies on the use of abbreviations, organizations would know better the strength and flaws of using abbreviations in particular healthcare facility. Organizational policies should therefore be also developed which would include the universal standard policies and organizational policies believed to maintain safety practice. The policy should clearly specify the abbreviations that can be safely used and their standard meanings in the organizations and those that should not be used providing the common errors generated. The policy must also indicate the forms of written paper that allows using abbreviations. The Institute for Safe Medication Practices for instance has provided lists of abbreviations that should never be used to communicate medical information (ISMP, 2007). Policies should also provide simple yet concise guidelines on the use of...