Drugs (Measurement Symbols)

Oral Answers to Questions — Ministry of Health – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 13th April 1959.

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Photo of Dr Donald Johnson Dr Donald Johnson , Carlisle 12:00 am, 13th April 1959

asked the Minister of Health whether, in the light of the fatalities that occur from time to time on account of overdoses of drugs given to patients through the confusion on the part of nurses and others between the traditional measurement symbol for a drachm and the same symbol for an ounce, which contains eight drachms, he will consult the suitable professional bodies with a view to abolishing the use of these symbols and substituting symbols which are more understandable and less liable to confusion.

Photo of Mr Derek Walker-Smith Mr Derek Walker-Smith , Hertfordshire East

The Pharmacopoeia Commission and the British National Formulary Committee have repeatedly advised prescribers to use only recognised abbreviations and to avoid symbols completely. I will take an appropriate opportunity to call attention again to that advice.

Photo of Dr Donald Johnson Dr Donald Johnson , Carlisle

I thank my right hon. and learned Friend for his reply, but will he not agree that apothecaries' weights in particular are increasingly falling into disuse with the newer preparations which are being measured by the metric system? I thank my right hon. and learned Friend very much for his promise of action in the matter.