Abbreviations and Acronyms


Category: General
Subject: Abbreviations and Acronyms
Policy Number: CA.50.01.100 
Effective Date: June 28, 2013


Abbreviations and acronyms save time and effort and are commonly used as a convenience in documentation, however, abbreviations are often misread or misinterpreted, resulting in confusion or harm to the client. In the interest of client safety, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health (WDGPH) has adopted an approved list of abbreviations and acronyms to guide documentation and the interpretation of handwritten and electronic notes. (See Appendix A – Abbreviations and Acronyms List included in procedure CA.50.02.100 Abbreviations and Acronyms).

The approved Abbreviations and Acronyms List will be reviewed annually by the Abbreviation and Acronym Review Committee. All recommendations will be considered annually.


This policy applies to all WDGPH employees including volunteers, students and contractual.


Management will:

  • Understand the policy CA.50.01.100 Abbreviations and Acronyms and ensure that the policy is adhered to;
  • Ensure employees are aware of the policy and are practicing within it;
  • Ensure all employees will be oriented to the policy during orientation;
  • Ensure that the Abbreviations and Acronyms List remains current and relevant to practice; and
  • Update employees on any changes to the Abbreviations and Acronyms List.

Employees will:

  • Understand and follow policy CA.50.01.100 Abbreviations and Acronyms;
  • Indicate to management when new abbreviations or acronyms are required; and
  • Indicate to management when abbreviations or acronyms are creating difficulty with documentation.


  • Abbreviation – is a shortened form of a word or phrase. Usually, but not always, it consists of a letter or group of letters taken from the word or phrase. For example, the word abbreviation can itself be represented by the abbreviation abbr., abbrv. or abbrev.
  • Acronym – a word formed from the initial letters or groups of letters of words in a set phrase or series of words, as WAC from Women’s Army Corps, and OPEC from Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
  • Abbreviation and Acronym Review Committee – ad hoc committee brought together annually to review the Abbreviations and Acronyms List. The Committee will be comprised of representation from all divisions of WDGPH and will include representation from all disciplines and one member of management.


Corresponding Procedure:  CA.50.02.100 Abbreviations and Acronyms
Appendix A – Abbreviations and Acronyms List (included in procedure)
CA.50.01.101 and CA.50.02.101 Documentation Practices


Carole Desmeules    


Category: General
Subject: Abbreviations and Acronyms
Procedure Number: CA.50.02.100
Effective Date: June 28, 2013


Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health (WDGPH) has established abbreviation and acronym standards for documentation. In order to meet the requirements of the policy CA.50.01.100 Abbreviations and Acronyms, the following rules must be followed to ensure compliance by all employees:

Abbreviations and Acronym Rules:

  • All abbreviations and acronyms written into documentation must be on the approved Abbreviations and Acronyms List;
  • If the policy conflicts with college requirements for abbreviation use, the college takes precedence;
  • Unavoidable duplications of abbreviations are acceptable if the abbreviation is defined in context. (See procedure below);
  • Program level documentation audits will include a review of used abbreviations and acronyms;
  • Policy CA.50.01.100 Abbreviations and Acronyms applies to all forms of documentation e.g. electronic, paper etc.; and
  • Abbreviations and acronyms cannot be used on consent forms.


  • Are limited to the symbols on a keyboard;
  • No more than five characters; if the word is five characters or less, it must be written out;
  • No punctuation marks;
  • Cannot form another word (e.g., nut, pop etc.);
  • Medication names cannot be abbreviated; drug names must be spelled out completely.


  • Protected titles;
  • Agency/institution names;
  • Schools;
  • Programs within an agency; and
  • Database programs.

Process for documenting with unavoidable duplications of abbreviations or acronyms:

  • Write out word(s) first;
  • Show abbreviation or acronym;
  • Use abbreviation in following text; and
  • Each time a new entry is included in a document this process must be followed.

Process for review and update of the approved Abbreviations and Acronyms List:


  • Maintain a list of abbreviations or acronyms that have been identified as a conflict or omission with the Abbreviations and Acronyms List;
  • Review the list of conflicts or omissions and make recommendation to the Abbreviation and Acronym Review Committee;
  • Provide opportunity for employees to participate on the Abbreviation and Acronym Review Committee annually; and
  • Consider and approve, alter, or deny recommendations from the Abbreviation and Acronym Review Committee.\


  • Provide management with conflicts or omissions to the Abbreviations and Acronyms List; and
  • Participate on the Abbreviation and Acronym Review Committee as required.

Abbreviation and Acronym Review Committee Members:

  • Select a Chair for the Abbreviation and Acronym Review Committee;
  • Review all recommendations from all programs in WDGPH;
  • The Chair will provide recommendations to management on changes to the approved Abbreviations and Acronyms List, or to the abbreviation and acronym rules at an Interdivisional Management meeting;
  • Management will make final decisions on the recommendations of the Abbreviation and Acronym Review Committee within four weeks of the submission of recommendations; and
  • All policy and procedural changes will be made and published to employees within eight weeks of approval of changes.


Corresponding Policy:  CA.50.01.100 Abbreviations and Acronyms
Appendix A – Abbreviations and Acronyms List (included in procedure)
CA.50.01.101 and CA.50.02.101 Documentation Practices


Carole Desmeules