Mind Over Miller: An abbreviated discussion about abbreviations

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Sep 01, 2006

Back when everything was handwritten, we used only a few abbreviations. For example, USA meant United States of America, and DOA meant dead on arrival. But with the invention of the typewriter, we became a more hasty society. We began to use abbreviations to save time. Now that we are in the computer era, everything is abbreviated, so we can get it done ASAP. Understand? OK?

I can't influence the rest of society, but maybe I can reduce this tendency within our profession. When I was in veterinary school, I didn't mind that a complete blood count was a CBC, a urinalysis was a UA, or a packed cell volume was a PCV. I accepted Fx, Px, and Rx. These are useful abbreviations. But now I think we have gone too far. Is OCD osteochondritis dissecans or does it mean outrageously confusing definition? Does CR mean computed radiography or confused reader? Similarly, does DR mean digital radiography or disgusted radiologist? Frankly, I am an EDR (extremely disgusted reader).

What precipitated this column was a journal article reporting that OSU (The Ohio State University) is now using an EDR3, an EDR6, and an EDR5 and state-of-the-art PACS. These advances will allow integration with patients' MRIs and CTs. Such technology, of course, requires an academic faculty with DVM, BVSc, PhD, MRCVS, DACVIM, and DECVIM credentials.

Frankly, all of this BS leaves me quite POed. I am beginning to suspect that our growing dependence on spell checker is the reason for this epidemic of initialology.


Robert M. Miller, DVM
How do you SCT (spell confusing terminology)?

Robert M. Miller, DVM, is an author and a cartoonist, speaker, and Veterinary Medicine Practitioner Advisory Board member from Thousand Oaks, Calif. His thoughts in "Mind Over Miller" are drawn from 32 years as a mixed-animal practitioner. Visit his Web site at http://www.robertmmiller.com/