Challenging Situations

Challenges to reducing the use of abbreviations are as varied as the different ways that abbreviations can contribute to errors. Overcoming these challenges requires a multifaceted change initiative that engages a wide variety of healthcare providers. These strategies are mainly applicable to healthcare delivery sites although pre-professional education programs for healthcare providers can use some of these strategies to help create a culture of practice in which abbreviation use is minimized. Finally, there are many things that individual healthcare providers can do in their personal practice to impact abbreviation use.

A table summarizing challenges and barriers as well as possible strategies to address them is found in the Resource section below. The following areas are covered:

  • Limited reporting of abbreviation-related errors.
  • Today’s culture reinforces use of abbreviations and other communication short-cuts.
  • Limited knowledge of patient safety concerns with abbreviations.
  • Variable prescribing practices.
  • Variable documentation and transcription skills.
  • Poorly designed technology.