What Are the Most Common Medication Dosage Abbreviations Used on Prescriptions?


Quick Answer

Some common abbreviations for prescription dosages include "q.d.," "a.c.," "prn.," q.4h" and "q.h.s.," according to the University of Minnesota. Doctors and pharmacists also use abbreviations such as "gtt.," "p.o.," "ad lib." and "ut dict.," according to FindLaw.

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Prescription abbreviations stand for Latin terms traditionally used by doctors and pharmacists to dispense medications to patients, notes MedicineNet. The abbreviation "q.d." is an abbreviations of the Latin phrase "quaque die," which means "once per day." The alphanumeric combination "q.4h" stands for "take every four hours." The "q" stands for "quaque," and "4h" indicates four hours. When a doctor or pharmacist writes "2 caps q4h," it means a patient should take two capsules every four hours.

The letters "prn." mean "take as needed," or "pro re nata" in Latin, according to the University of North Carolina Eshelman School of Pharmacy. The abbreviation "q.h.s." stands for the Latin words "quaque hora somni," which means "take at bedtime." The letters "a.c." stand for "ante cibum," which translates to "before meals."

The abbreviation "gtt." means "guttae" in Latin, or "drops" in English, notes FindLaw. The letters "ad lib." mean "ad libitum," or "use as much as one desires." The abbreviation "p.o." is "per os" in Latin, or "by mouth" in English. The phrase "ut dict." is short for "ut dictum" which means "as directed."

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