Posted by: episystechpubs | February 18, 2015

Editor’s Corner: Take Your Medicine

I was at the veterinarian last night with my dog, Bella, and I heard the nurse refer to someone’s prescription as their “Rx.” That got me wondering about how the word prescription was related to that abbreviation. Why does the abbreviation begin with an “R”? Where does the “x” come from?

After reading several articles, here’s what I’ve found:

(or Rx or Rx) is a symbol from medieval manuscripts to abbreviate the Latin verb recipe, which is the imperative form of recipere. Recipere commands the subject “to take” or “take thus,” which makes sense as the beginning of a prescription. Prescription is formed from pre- (before) and script (writing, written). A prescription is an order that must be written before the apothecary/druggist/pharmacist/herb doctor can prepare a compound drug for you.

Now back to the Rx. Some sources say that the “x” in the symbol is from the Eye of Horus (or wedjat), the Egyptian symbol of good health and protector from evil.

Others say that the symbol is derived from that of Zeus (or Jupiter), also called upon in search of good health and protection.

I’m not sure which of the two it might be, but here is another interesting tidbit. Doctors don’t just abbreviate prescription with an Rx, they use the “x” as shorthand for other abbreviations, too. Here are a few of them:

· Dx = diagnosis

· Fx = fracture

· Hx = history

· Sx = signs and symptoms

· Tx = therapy

My dog, however, doesn’t care about any of this. After a German Shepard broke Bella’s foot by using her paw as a chew toy, she is stuck in a splint and must wear the cone of shame for two months.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory


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