Pursuit Of Excellent Medicine - Acronyms in Medical Practice

By Dr John Cross MB.BS.FAFOEM [RACP].GDPH Manager, Health, Education and Training - AMPHEaT Using acronyms in clinical notes/orders is a possible source of error in case management and can confound clinical reasoning. In 1971 I wrote up the clinical orders for a flat patient with “A Litre of Hartmann’s ASAP & will review patient in 30 minutes. KVO with normal saline thereafter”. It was 2.00am and the ward staff were at meal break hence the written note. Upon return as scheduled there was nearly a full Hartmann’s hanging and when I asked the Ward Staff what was happening they said it is going in ASAP which to them was as slow as possible. I never got to experience what their interpretation of KVO was! I have never used acronyms since in orders but have succumbed to their use in my medical notes as in Lx Sp, Tx Sp, Hx, and AJ. As for confounding Clinical reasoning, if you get that LUTS means something, then HUTS must have a place as well in the acronym literature. However, I find no published data on Higher Urinary Tract Symptoms (HUTS) or that Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms (LUTS) is a known listed ‘Medical Acronym’’. IPESIM …..Introducing Possible Error Sources In Medicine…… at least this acronym conveys pessimism eh? Cheers JohnC PS. love to hear of any acronyms you have had issues with.

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