Posted by: Jack Henry | November 28, 2017

Editor’s Corner: Rx

Last weekend I spent a riveting day at a conference for diabetics. On one of the slides, I noticed the abbreviation DX, which I realized referred to “diagnosis,” or in this case, the date of diagnosis. Just days later, one of you sent me a related question, asking about where the “x” in the abbreviation for “prescription” (Rx) comes from. This was more difficult to find information on than I expected, but here is some information from Wikipedia, the Online Etymology Dictionary, and some general research I did.

First, from Wikipedia:

“℞” is a symbol meaning "recipe." It is sometimes transliterated as "Rx" or just "Rx". This symbol originated in medieval manuscripts as an abbreviation of the Late Latin verb recipe, the second person singular imperative form of recipere, "to take", thus: "take thou". Medieval prescriptions invariably began with the command to "take" certain materials and compound them in specified ways.

Folk theories about the origin of the symbol “℞” note its similarity to the Eye of Horus, or to the ancient symbol for Zeus or Jupiter, (♃), gods whose protection may have been sought in medical contexts.

The Eye of Horus

And from the Online Etymology Dictionary:

Rx (recipe)

1580s, "medical prescription," from Middle French récipé (15c.), from Latin recipe "take!," second person imperative singular of recipere "to take" (see receive); word written by physicians at the head of prescriptions. Figurative use from 1640s. Meaning "instructions for preparing food" first recorded 1743. The original sense survives only in the pharmacist’s abbreviation Rx.

And then some additional abbreviations I found on the internet and confirmed in Wikipedia:

· BX = biopsy

· DX = diagnosis.

· DDX = differential diagnosis. A variety diagnostic possibilities are being considered to diagnose the type of cancer present in the patient.

· FX = fracture

· HX = history

· PHX = past history

· PX = physical exam, prognosis, or patient

· RX or = prescription, prescription drug, or remedy

· SX = signs and symptoms

· TX = treatment

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

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