Staff use of acronyms in electronic care records
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Staff use of acronyms in electronic care records

Gareth Rees ST4 psychiatrist, Bushey Fields Hospital, Dudley, West Midlands

Patients’ casenotes should be unambiguous to avoid misunderstandings among healthcare professionals and limit potential risks to patients and staff, says Gareth Rees

The increased use of acronyms and abbreviations by practitioners in mental health services challenges guidance that warns against using unnecessary jargon in practice. A study was designed to assess the prevalence of acronyms, used without explanation, in the records of patients detained in a medium secure unit and to estimate awareness of what these abbreviations refer to among nursing staff.

The results show that the use of abbreviations is common among all mental health professionals (doctors, in particular) and that a significant proportion of the acronyms used are either ambiguous or poorly understood by nursing staff. Mental health professionals are urged to restrict their use of abbreviations to those that are universally accepted.

Mental Health Practice. 16, 10, 28-31. doi: 10.7748/mhp2013.07.16.10.28.e869

Correspondence

garethrees8@doctors.org.uk

Peer review

This article has been subject to double blind peer review

Conflict of interest

None declared

Received: 10 August 2012

Accepted: 14 November 2012