MEDICATION ERRORS: Don't “zero” in for safety

July 2004 
Volume 34  Number 7
Pages 12 - 12
  PDF Version Available!

© 2004 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc. Volume 34(7)             July 2004             p 12 Don't “zero” in for safety [MEDICATION ERRORS: NUMERALS VS. WORDS]


Which is less likely to be misinterpreted—a figure expressed strictly in numbers (such as 1,000) or one expressed as a number with a word (such as 1 thousand)? When round numbers reach thousands or millions, they can cause confusion when expressed with multiple zeros, leading to errors. (Compare 1,000, 10,000, and 1,000,000 with 1 thousand, 10 thousand, and 1 million.) Because the words “thousand” and “million” are so different, they're more easily distinguished than a series of zeros. A number followed by a word is the safer option. Don't abbreviate “million” or “thousand” because the meaning could be misunderstood.

Michael R. Cohen ...

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