Tips on writing safe and precise Sigs

Even though electronic prescribing improves provider workflow and patient safety, many errors occur when entering important data segments. Dosing and usage instructions, or sigs, are subject to many errors. The purpose of this article is to provide tips for preventing errors and writing safe and precise prescriptions to the pharmacy.

Instructions on how to write an electronic prescription can be found in the guides listed below:

Best Way to Avoid Mistakes:

Use the fields provided in the prescription pad, you can select a more accurate instruction for dosage and frequency.

Additional Sig Tips:

1. Always be clear and precise in your instructions.

2. Eliminate vague instructions such as “take as directed”. If using terms such as this, add specific instruction into the Additional Sig field at the bottom of the prescription pad.

3. Prescription instructions can sometimes be interpreted several different ways by the pharmacist.

For example, “1qd” could be received by the pharmacist as:

  • Take one tablet once daily
  • Take 1 tablet 1 time per day
  • Take one tablet each morning
  • Take one tablet every 24 hours

Frequency Abbreviations:

  • BID “bis in die” meaning Twice daily
  • TID “ter in die” meaning Three times a day
  • QID “quater in die” meaning Four times a day
  • Q1h “quaque 1 hora” meaning every 1 hour (can replace ‘1’ with other numbers)
  • Q1h WA “quaque 1 hora while awake” meaning every 1 hour while awake (can replace ‘1’ with other numbers)
  • QHS “quaque hora somni” meaning every night at bedtime
  • Add’l Sig “Additional Sig” Type additional text and instructions, via the additional sig box, to appear on the prescription’s label
Quick Tip:
The Drug Review page will allow you to review the Sig, as it would be written on the label for your patient. It will also give you the opportunity to edit or revise the prescription or sig, as needed, before transmitting to the pharmacy.

Updated on July 8, 2024

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