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September 1961

To Abbreviate or Not to Abbreviate?That Is the Question

Author Affiliations

John P. Gibson, M.D., 202 Grape St., Abilene, Texas.

Am J Dis Child. 1961;102(3):424-426. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1961.02080010426022

Recently, two of our local physicians left this community to relocate elsewhere and two others died. Some of their patients came to me bringing their medical records. It was then necessary for me to translate the abbreviations that had been used. This experience, constantly repeated everywhere, brings up the question of the use of abbreviations.

Despite the fact that all major medical dictionaries list the more conventional abbreviations used in records and histories, such as BMR, CNS, etc., many of the terms peculiar to pediatrics are not listed; and even for conventional abbreviations, many of us do not bother to look up the "standard" ones, but tend to "roll our own." As a result, all of us face a rather chaotic situation that could be serious when we try to translate a colleague's original hieroglyphics (or he, ours) to determine whether a child has had his tetanus toxoid ("TT" [?]) or

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