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How to Read a Doctor's Prescription [Medical Prescriptions Abbreviations Glossary]

Doctors are known for their bad handwriting. Almost every prescription has certain pieces of information that your doctor will always include, the doctor's professional information, such as his/her name, address, and phone number, will be at the top of the form while below this is the prescribed medicines. 

The main purpose of your prescription is to let the pharmacist know what drug you need in what concentration. Don't worry if you don't recognize the name of the drug. So don't feel stupid if you don't understand your script, because unless you have a medical background, prescription abbreviations will be almost impossible to decipher. Typically, your doctor will write out the generic name for the drug. This is because the brand names for drugs can be spelled similarly and it might cause confusion or error at the pharmacy.
Latin abbreviations are used to indicate the directions of how to take your medicine, and it's used as a type of shorthand between doctors and pharmacists.



Here, in the list of commonly used code by doctors, capitalization and the use of a period is a matter of style. Latin is not capitalized whereas English acronyms are.
Abbreviation/ Code
Latin Translation (if any)
What does it mean?
a.c.
ante cibum
before meals
b.i.d.
bis in die
twice a day
c
cum
with
cap
capsula
capsule
d
dies
day
D.A.W

dispense as written (no substituting generic drugs)
gtt
gutta
drop
h, hr, hor.
hora
Hour
h.s.
hora somni (at the hour of sleep)
At bedtime
hor. alt.
hora alternis
every other hour (every second hour; at alternate hours)
hor. decub.
hora decubitus
At bedtime
hor. tert.
horis tertiis
Every third hour
I.M.

into the muscle
I.V.

into the vein
MG

milligram
ML

millilitre
noct.
 noctle
at night
O 2, O2
Both eyes
o.d.
omni die
Everyday (once daily) 
o.d.
oculo dextro
right eye
o.s.
oculo sinistro
left eye
o.u.
oculo utro
in each eye
p.c.
post cibum
after meals
p.o.
per os
by mouth
p.r.n.
pro re nata
as needed
pil
pilula
pill
q 3 h
quaque 3 hora
every 3 hours
q.a.d.
quoque alternis die
every other day
q.a.m.
quaque die ante meridiem
every morning (every day before noon)
q.i.d.
quater in die
four times a day
q.o.d

every other day
qd
quaque die
daily
qh
quaque hora
every hour
Rx, Rx, RX,  ,
recipe
take (often effectively a noun meaning "prescription"—medical prescription or prescription drug)
s
sine
without
s.l.

under the tongue
t.i.d.
ter in die
three times a day
tab
tabella
tablet
tbsp

tablespoon
tsp

teaspoon
ut dict

as directed by doctor
W
With
w/a
While Awake
w/o
without
X, x

times

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