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Do Not Use List Fact Sheet

This list is part of the Information Management standards. The list applies to all orders, preprinted forms, and medication-related documentation. Medication-related documentation can be either handwritten or electronic.


Official "Do Not Use" List

Do Not Use Potential Problem Use Instead
U, u (unit) Mistaken for "0" (zero), the number "4" (four) or "cc" Write "unit"
IU (International Unit) Mistaken for IV (intravenous) or the number 10 (ten) Write "International Unit"
Q.D., QD, q.d., qd (daily)

Q.O.D., QOD, q.o.d, qod (every other day)
Mistaken for each other

Period after the Q mistaken for "I" and the "O" mistaken for "I
Write "daily"

Write "every other day"
Trailing zero (X.0 mg)*
Lack of leading zero (.X mg)
Decimal point is missed Write X mg
Write 0.X mg

MSO4 and MgSO4
Can mean morphine sulfate or magnesium sulfate
Confused for one another
Write "morphine sulfate"
Write "magnesium sulfate"

*Exception:  A “trailing zero” may be used only where required to demonstrate the level of precision of the value being reported, such as for laboratory results, imaging studies that report size of lesions, or catheter/tube sizes. It may not be used in medication orders or other medication-related documentation.

Development of the "Do Not Use" List

In 2001, The Joint Commission issued a Sentinel Event Alert on the subject of medical abbreviations. A year later, its Board of Commissioners approved a National Patient Safety Goal requiring accredited organizations to develop and implement a list of abbreviations not to use. In 2004, The Joint Commission created its “Do Not Use” List to meet that goal. In 2010, NPSG.02.02.01 was integrated into the Information Management standards as elements of performance 2 and 3 under IM.02.02.01. In 2021, a FAQ was developed to address the key concepts organizations need to understand regarding the use of terminology, definitions, abbreviations, acronyms, symbols and dose designations. 

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