This review will cover the most common medication abbreviation frequencies for medication times and orders in nursing.
It’s important to be familiar with abbreviations used to describe medication times and order frequencies. Frequencies refer to the amount of times something should be completed or administered.
For example, frequency abbreviations in nursing can be used to describe how often a patient needs to take a medication like in the am or pm, q4hr, AC, PC, or BID etc. In addition, abbreviations can be used when ordered by the physician to tell the nurse how often certain lab levels should be drawn….example: troponin levels. For instance, the physician may order them to be drawn q6h, which means every 6 hours.
However, it’s important to remember that when using abbreviations with documenting or taking orders, that the nurse uses approved abbreviations set by the employer. Most employers will have a list or set of guidelines on what abbreviations are allowed vs. not allowed. Therefore, always follow your employer’s guidelines, but if you’re ever in doubt about an abbreviation just write it out instead of abbreviating it.
Medication Abbreviation Frequencies for Administration Times and Orders to Know as a Nurse
AC: before meals
- example: AC BK: before breakfast…(it may be specific and list the abbreviation w/ breakfast, lunch, or dinner)
PC: after meals
- example: PC BK: before breakfast…(it may be specific and list the abbreviation w/ breakfast, lunch, or dinner)
How to keep from getting AC confused with PC? Remember that A (which is found at the beginning of AC: BEFORE meals) comes BEFORE all the other letters in the alphabet. While P (which is found at the beginning of PC: AFTER meals) comes AFTER the letter A in the alphabet.
PM: in the evening
AM: in the morning
Bedtime: write it out
- Avoid using HS (hs) because it can be confused with half-strength.
Q or q: every
HR, hr, or h: hour
- Q2HR or q2h (every 2 hours), Q4HR or q4h (every 4 hours), Q6HR or q6h (every 6 hours), Q2-4HR (every 2-4 hours), etc.
- q15min (every 15 minutes), q30min (every 30 minutes), etc.
Daily or Q24HR (q24h): every day (QD or qd no longer recommended in practice)
Every other day: write it out (QOD or qod no longer recommended in practice)
BID (bis in die): twice a day
TID (ter in die): three times a day
QID (quater in die): four times a day
STAT: immediately (time critical)
x: time or times
- example x1 (one time…one dose only) or x2 (two times…two doses only)
ad lib: as much as patient desires
- example: OOB (out of bed) or ambulate ad lib
PRN (pro re nata): as needed
- example: an oral medication order may say that the patient can have a certain medication as needed (PRN) for pain q4hr etc.
Now test your knowledge by taking this medication abbreviations quiz.