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Discuss how using abbreviations can either help or hinder communication among health care professionals.
Optimal communication between healthcare providers, frequently through our notes, is essential for supplying high quality care within and across clinical settings. [ With the involvement of greater numbers of healthcare professionals in the care of patients, and with provider responsibilities often restricted to either the hospital or ambulatory settings, substantial attention is being focused
on improving handovers and transitions in medical care. Sheppard and colleagues1 have systematically detailed one important challenge to communicating written information about our patients, with serious implications. They describe the prolific use of ambiguous medical abbreviations in note keeping. In their review of 25 paediatric handover sheets and 168 sets of medical notes, the authors identified 221 and 3668 abbreviations, respectively. Paediatric physicians were able to accurately recognise 56–94% of these. However, only about half of the abbreviations were understood by other healthcare professionals, such as ancillary staff or physicians from other disciplines. ]
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