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image asking "why is abbreviation such a long word?"For your information, we humans are prone to abbreviate.  Some of us, military types and medical types and such, are espec. prone to abbreviate.  Like most things in life, to abbreviate serves us well and serves us ill.  COP & UAMS & COM & CHP & COPH and CON save space and effort and mean the same as their longer equivalents.  But to the uninitiated, abbreviations confuse and can be offputting and secretive.  In addition, an abbreviated form can carry unwanted connotations.  When working in a nursing home many years ago, I learned not to sign the paper charts with my initials BM.  I abbreviated RM for Robert instead.  A friend told me about beginning work in a medical facility and wondering why so many of the patients were described as SOB until he heard the shortness of their breath and realized it was not a commentary on their attitudes.  I heard about a person who invited a friend to dinner WTF (Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday she thought).

The long and the short of it is, abbrev. w/ care.

Do Abbreviate

  • When you must save space or characters (e.g. when texting or taking notes).
  • When you are sure you and your reader will understand the same meaning.
  • link to the Joint Commission Do Not Use list of abbreviationsWhen you need to keep private from the uninstructed a message that must be sent.

Do NOT Abbreviate

  • If the other party does not know (of even if you are unsure whether they know or not) the meaning.
  • If the meaning is ambiguous.
  • When patient safety and quality of care are at issue,

Confused by the message on the Slideshow in the Student Success Center? Here is what was written:

Abbrs are gr8. In our med wrld we use them oft & to gd effct.  COPD is much easier than wrtng or spking out the ent. phrase. Some abbrs can ref to more than one sit.  Ck out our curr blog pst on the use of abbrs.

Here it is without all the abbreviations:

Abbreviations are great.  In our medical world we use them often and to good effect.  COPD is much easier than writing or speaking out the entire phrase. However, some abbreviations can refer to more than one situation.  Check out our current blog post on the use of abbreviations.

Remember to abbreviate with care.