Campaign Targets Medication Mistakes Caused by Unclear Medical Abbreviations

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) today launched a nationwide health professional education campaign aimed at reducing the number of common but preventable sources of medication mix-ups and mistakes caused by the use of unclear medical abbreviations. The campaign focuses on eliminating the use of potentially confusing abbreviations by healthcare professionals, medical students, medical writers, the pharmaceutical industry and FDA staff. The campaign will address the use of mistake-prone abbreviations in all forms of medical communication, including written medication orders, computer-generated labels, medication administration records, pharmacy or prescriber computer order entry screens and commercial medication labeling, packaging and advertising. Campaign materials include: 1) a brochure to be distributed to medical professionals, the pharmaceutical industry and medical publishing professionals; 2) a print public service ad that will be sent to professional trade publications; 3) posters with reminders about commonly used error-prone abbreviations for healthcare facilities; 4) an online toolkit of materials, including PowerPoint slides for presentations at conferences and meetings; and 5) a patient safety video. All of these materials are available on the Web at and