Ter die sumendusBMJ 2006; 332 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.332.7554.1378 (Published 08 June 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:1378
All rapid responses
Differences from classical Latin in Chris Ellis’s amusing filler
(June 10) prompted a limited investigation of prescribers’ Latin on
Google, from which it became clear that medical Latin has long since
descended into the kennels, and there is little consensus on the precise
expansion of the commonly used abbreviations.
For example, correct Latin for 'every morning/night' is 'omne
mane/nocte' but Google offers marginally more examples (138,000 vs
128,000) of 'omni nocte' than of the grammatically correct form. Variant
mongrel-Latin expansions of the common prescribing abbreviations abound,
some even listed in the BNF. For example, you would have no difficulty in
finding somewhere recommendations for any one of ‘ter die/ter in die/ter
diem/ter in diem’ for ‘three times a day’.
What you are unlikely to find, however, is the recommendation Dr
Ellis imputes to Aids to Pharmaceutical Latin (Baillere, Tindall and Cox,
1921)---that a fomentation (‘fomentum’) might be prescribed ‘ter die
sumendus’. Apart from the fact 'fomentum’ requires 'sumendum', the root
‘sumere' means 'to ingest'. For non-consumable items it would have bee
nmore usual to write ‘t d u,ter [in] die utendum’---'to be used thrice
daily'. Small wonder explicit prescribing in English is now preferred.
Competing interests: No competing interests