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Prescription Writing. 



DESIGNED FOR THE USE OF 



MEDICAL STUDENTS WHO HAVE NEVER 

STUDIED LATIN. 



BY 



FREDERIC HENRY GJIRRISH, A.M., M.D., 

PBOVESSOB OF ANATOMT AND FORMERLT PROFESSOa OF MATERIA MKDIOA AMD 

THSRAPEUTICS IN BOWDOIN COLLEGE, SURGEON TO THE MAINE GENERAL 

HOSPITAL, PRESIDENT OF TOE MAINE STATE BOARD OF HEALTH, 

PRESIDENT OF THK AMERICAN ACADEMY OF 

MEDICINE, ETC. 



5ebentf| anU ^t^aistn lEDttton. 



• • * 

• • • • 






••• <•- • 

• • * ? •• 

• •• • «• • • 

• ? • • • • • 

• • * • • • • 






• •• 



PORTLAND, ME.: 
LORING, SHORT, AND HARMON. 

PUILADELPIUA : J. B. LIPPINCOTT & CO. 

1888. 



Copyright, 1877, 
Bt Frederic Henrt Gerrish. 



Copyright^ 1880, 
By Loring, Short, and Harmon. 



Copyright^ 1888, 
By Loring, Short, and Harmon. 






• • • 



•• 



University Prbss: 
JoHH Wilson & Son, Cambridge. 



11 



« r\ ■ ■■» 
• < i 



CONTENTS. 



Paos 
Pbefacb • . . • • 5 



FIRST PART. 
Rules fob Writing Pbescbiptions • • • • . 7 

SECOND PART. 

WOBDS USED IN WbITING PRESCRIPTIONS ... 39 

APPENDIX. 
The Metric System in Prescriptions .... 53 



101tV5^ 



PREFACE. 



Every teacher of medicine in this country must 
have been impressed with the fact that a large pro- 
portion of the students in our schools have no 
knowledge of the Latin language. This is demon- 
strated daily by the diflSculty with which they learn 
the technical names of the various structures, dis- 
eases, processes, and agents with which they have to 
deal, each being committed to memory arbitrarily, 
and affording no clue to any other term. In no 
other class of cases, however, is this deficiency of 
education so apparent as with regard to the termi- 
nology of the pharmacopoeia, especially when it be- 
comes necessary to make the grammatical changes 
required in giving directions for compounding medi- 
cines. Students are often deterred from under- 
taking the labor needed to make them expert in 
this respect, from a mistaken idea of its magnitude. 
It is to help them in this very important but much 
neglected part of their medical work that this little 
book has been written. It is not designed to give 
instruction in the art of prescribing, but simply to 
teach those who know nothing whatever of the lan- 
guage the little Latin which is essential to correct 
prescription writing, and to inculcate such lessons on 
this subject as a considerable experiaivfiA \a.\Rss.^s^jj&%. 
has shown to be de8iia\Ae. TVl*^ ^a«\» ^^^sN. ^^^^iws^cca. 



6 PREFACE. 

the rules to be observed in writing prescriptions; 
the second part presents all the words that are neces- 
sary for (though not all that may be used in) this exer- 
cise, so arranged as best to facilitate reference and 
the easy acquirement of a sufficient familiarity with 
their various forms. 

I am aware that it may be objected to this plan 
that it gives the student httle more than a parrot- 
like command of a few words and expressions, and 
does not teach him the principles of the language. 
But I respectfully submit that it is far better for a 
man to write a prescription correctly, even in the 
most automatic way, than to blunder through it dis- 
gracefblly, as so many habitually do, and thus expose 
himself to the ridicule of apothecaries' shop-boys. 
Besides, I cherish the not unreasonable hope that 
the aid in prescription writing derived from the 
little knowledge of Latin which this book may im- 
part will so convince some students of the value of 
the language, that they will systematically undertake 
the mastery of its elements, and acquire a consider- 
able vocabulary. The time is not very far off, I 
trust, when no one will be allowed to matriculate in 
a medical school who has not a good reading knowl- 
edge of easy Latin. Until then, it seems to me that 
such books as this is designed to be may perform an 
important service. 

F« H. Gr* 
Portland, Mazkb, 

ZlstofAvffU9t,\9ll. 



PRESCRIPTION WRITING. 



FIRST PART. 



RULES FOR WRITING PRESCRIPTIONS. 

The word Prescription is derived from the Latin 
pra^ meaning ''before," and scriptum (the perfect 
participle of scrihoy " I write"), meaning " written." 
It, therefore, etymologically signifies ''something 
written beforehand," and thus preserves the memory 
of the custom which formerly obtained among phy- 
sicians of writing down their advice for the guidance 
of their patients. Soon, however, the word came to 
be applied to any recommendation, whether written 
or spoken, which the medical attendant made. Thus, 
verbal directions about the food of the sick man, the 
ventilation or lighting of his room, the preservation 
of quiet, the change of linen, in short, aU things 
which will in any way contribute to the restoration of 
his health, are prescriptions. 

But, though this is a not infrequent use of the 
word, it has a restricted meaning ^\!L\rfa. Ss^ ^«ss^^s^ 
more common. It is empVoy^^ \ic> ^'Ei%\^Cka^fc ^ ^'^^ 
mala consisting of dixectioiia Xo ^a. ^.^oSJs^ftft^^ ^"^^^ 



8 PRESCRIPTION WRITING, [Part 

ceming the compounding of a medicine, and in this 
sense only will it be used in this book. 

It should be understood, to start with, that the 
object of this work is to give instruction in the art 
of writing prescriptions, and not in that of prescrib- 
ing. The one may be learned in a very short time 
and with comparatively little labor ; the other can be 
acquired only by prolonged study and experience 
with diseases and medicines. I take it for granted 
that the student has spent some time at his Materia 
Medica, and knows something of the principles of 
medicinal combination, of the incompatibilities of 
drugs, and of dosage. It maj'' be well, however, to 
mention that the true type of a prescription is based 
upon a maxim of Asclepiades, Curare citOy tuto et 
fucunde, which proclaims the duty of the therapeu- 
tist to be to Cure quichly, safely^ and pleasantly. 
This sajing it is alwaj's well to bear in mind in pre- 
scribing, inasmuch as attention to its suggestions will 
guide the physician- to the most advantageous admin- 
istration of medicines. According to this rule, the 
typical prescription contains, first, an ingredient 
which is expected to do the chief work in the case, 
whose office it is to cure or relieve the patient, and 
which is hence called the Basis ; second, an element 
designed to assist or accelerate the action of i\\^. 
basis, to make it do its work more quickly than if 
left to itself, and therefore known as the Adjuvant ; 
third, a substance calculated to correct or modify 
some undesirable or injurious effect of the basis or 
the adjuvant, to cause it to act more safely than it 
would alone, and for this reason named the Corri- 
gent; and, fourth and last, a material which will 
jrive such form and consistence to the preparation as 
^ make it pleasant, or, at all events, not disagree- 
^ble, for the patient to take, a carnei ot \Xi^ ^.^^^^ 



I. J RULES FOR WRITING PRESCRIPTIONS. 9 

parts of the compound, and consequently designated 
the ExciPiENT. This will be understood at once by 
a glance at tlie following table : — 

Curare TCureJ with the Basis Tthe Essential). 

Cito (Quietly) ,, „ Adjuvant (the Assistant). 

Tuto (Safely) „ „ Corrigent (the Corrective). 

et 
Jucunde (Pleasantly) ,, ,, Excipient (the Vehicle). 

As an illustration, let us suppose that we desire 
to prescribe for a case of constipation in which the 
Compound Extract of Colocynth would be an appro- 
priate remedy. Employing this as the Basis, we may 
assist its laxative action by associating with it a 
proper quantity of Blue Pill, which would be the 
Adjuvant. But Colocynth is liable to produce grip- 
ing, and this tendency we can correct by employing 
the Extract of Henbane as a Corrigent. Finally, 
the addition of a little Syrup as Excipient will render 
it easy to make the whole into a pill-mass of proper 
consistency. 

It must not be supposed that every correct pre- 
scription contains all these elements. Sometimes 
the Basis is all that is needed ; for it may alone be* 
sufficiently powerful for the purpose required, may 
have no tendency to produce any unpleasant symp- 
toms, and, at the same time, be naturally in a con- 
dition which renders it agreeable to take. In another 
case, the Basis may need an Adjuvant or a Corrigent 
or a Vehicle, or some two of these. The Basis is 
always present, it is essential; the. others may or 
may not be needed. 

In prescribing, simplicity should be aimed at ; but 
one must guard against the extreme which, for the 
sake of simplicity, would violate the least important 
of the charges in the old precept ^\^^r!ol^^ \^as^^'«»s!w- 
lyzed, "Never gi\e a ^at^Oi^ ot \fika^^\»s^ ^^^^J^ 



10 PRESCRIPTION WRITING. [Part 

is not required," is a rule which should have always 
as its companion, " Give whatever drugs are needed 
to cure quickly, safely, and pleasantly." 

It is a good plan for a physician to keep about him 
a sufficient quantity of paper, cut into pieces of con- 
venient size and shape, for writing prescriptions. 
One sliould never, when he can possibly avoid it, 
rely upon a chance supply, such as may be had at the 
houses of his patients. To say nothing of the in- 
convenience which such a practice may entail upon 
all concerned, it often obUges one to send out a slov- 
enly-looking prescription, and it betrays a lack of 
that thoughtfulness about Uttle things which is prop- 
erly expected of a medical attendant. Pen and ink 
are preferable to pencil, as producing wiiting which 
is less liable to blmiing and erasures, and therefore 
safer. 

The writing should be so distinct that no word or 
symbol can possibly be mistaken for any other. 
Every letter even ought to be well defined. Some- 
times it is a matter of literally vital moment that 
just what the physician intends by his prescription 
'should be given to the patient ; therefore it is a duty 
to cultivate the habit of legibility, that clearness maj' 
not be wanting when the greatest necessity for it 
arises. The chirography of some physicians is sim- 
ply homicidal. 

In prescribing unusually large doses of powerful 
medicines, which might alarm the druggist and cause 
him to hesitate about compounding the prescription, 
unless he were absolutely certain of the intent of the 
physician, it is well to write the quantities of the 
drugs in both Roman and Arabic characters. The 
apothecary will then have e\idence that the dose was 
dehheraicly and carefully determined upon, and will 
without fear supply the patient inmie^atfel^'^ a.\id thus 



LI RXILES FOR WRITING PRESCRIPTIONS. 11 

avoid a delay which, in an exigent case, might be 
disastrous. 

Before it is parted with, a prescription should be 
carefully revised. Every item of it should be studi- 
ously scrutinized, to make sure of its correctness. 
He is a rare man who never makes a mistake ; and 
it is very curious to see how strangely astray physi- 
cians will sometimes go in their prescriptions, writing 
for articles which are furthest from their thoughts, 
ordering ounces for drachms, and vice versa, leaving 
out the directions for quantities altogether, omitting 
to state the size and time of the dose, and otherwise 
giving evidence of wandering attention and deficient 
care. It is well, therefore, if time permits, to lay 
the prescription aside for a minute or two, until it has 
cooled, as it were, and then examine it critically, as 
if it were the work of some one else. 

It is always desirable for the physician to sign his 
name to the prescription, in order that, if there is 
any question about its propriety, the apothecary may 
know that a responsible party has written it, and that 
a comphance with its directions will not result to the 
compounder's detriment. Some physicians sign only 
theii' initials ; and this, doubtless, is generally suffi- 
cient in a small place, or in a large one if the doctor 
is a distinguished practitioner. But, even in these 
cases, it is far better to write the full name ; for pre- 
scriptions are often carried out of the town in which 
they are made, and beyond the boundaries of most 
men's fame ; and a failure to show a practical recog- 
nition of these facts, though perhaps really due to 
the proverbial modesty of medical men, may be con- 
strued by the evil-minded as an evidence of conceit. 
If the place be a sizable city, it is advisable to give 
the residence as well as the name^ so tXva^^K^^sjcsi^^^ 
way, if he desires, readily coIia\]\\.\Xl<^^^^^Kss^'^'^^ 



12 PRESCRIPTION WRITING. [Part 

the medicine intended. This is more frequently 
necessary than would be supposed by one unfamiliar 
with the subject. Occasionally it is helpful to know 
when a prescription was written ; the date, therefore, 
should be inserted. 

The exact quantity of the dose, the periods for its 
repetition, the method of taking, and all other neces- 
sary^ directions, should be written out at full length, 
and in the plainest possible language, for the apothe- 
cary to copy on the label. This is not only of great 
assistance to the patient and his attendants, who, 
witli all their anxiety and the extraordinary cares 
which illness in the family always brings, are very 
liable to forget the small but important details of 
administration ; but it is also an aid to the apothe- 
cary, in enabling him to detect eiTors in dose which 
he otherwise could not, and thus, perhaps, to save 
the physician from a mortifying predicament, and 
the patient from an aggravation of his sufferings. 
There are exceptional cases, however, in which it is 
better to rely on the memory of the patient than to 
label his medicine so distinctly as to arouse in the 
minds of others suspicions as to the character of his 
malady. In some cases, for example, we write 
"Wash" rather than "Injection," although the 
latter word is more closely descriptive of the char- 
acter of the medicament, and the method of using it. 
The shorter word is sufficient for the purposes of the 
patient, and others are lefb in ignorance as to whether 
it is scalp, eyes, urethra, or some other part for 
which the lotion is designed. 

Remedies to be employed topically should always 

be so marked, to distinguish them from those which 

are to be taken internally. Lack of attention to this 

pomt has sometimes resulted fatally to the patient. 

T^Tjhen a very powerful and concentraled Tsie^^^-c^Ska \a 



I.] RULES FOR WRITING PRESCRIPTIONS. 13 

ordered, it is a good idea to have it labelled "Poi- 
Bon," as a warning to careless persons. The direc- 
tion, " To be used as ordered," though very common, 
is to be avoided ; it is entirely valueless, since it does 
not serve to recall to mind any thing except the fact 
that some directions have been given, which was 
well enough known before. 

Some apothecaries have a space on their labels 
for the patient's name, and it would be well if the 
practice of writing the name on the prescription were 
more common. There would be less liability to mis- 
takes in deHvering packages to customers, reference 
' to the apothecary's files would be somewhat facili- 
tated, and, when there were two or more sick in the 
same household, the chance of the wrong medicine's 
being given to any one of them would be greatly 
diminished. 

Unfoiixinately, on many accounts, it is the custom 
for apothecaries to refill prescriptions as often as 
they are requested to. Physicians sometimes com- 
plain of this practice, which, evidently, is frequently 
injurious to them and to their patients ; but, for the 
most part, they have only themselves to blame, 
because they have so long permitted the wrong with- 
out a protest. Apothecaries consider the transaction 
in a commercial fight almost altogether, and gener- 
ally have no idea of doing any one an injury. But, 
if the phj'sician were to write across the face of his 
prescription "Not to be repeated," or "To be re- 
peated only so many times," or some other words 
which would establish a limit to the legitimate 
renewals, it is hardly supposable that a pharmaceu- 
tist of respectability and honor, or even of moderate 
shrewdness, would disregard tlie reasonable request 
of one who alone is fully com^etft.\i\»\Ri ^^'^ ^\*<ssi&k 
therapeutic requirementA ot ^Xikft ^'asfc^ «sn^ ^^^^^rr*^ 



14 PRESCRIPTION WRITING. [Part 

favor and esteem he can poorly afford to lose. It is 
not necessary to exercise this caution in all prescrip- 
tions ; in some cases the repetition may be left to 
the discretion of the patient. But, in ordering 
powerful drugs, thought should always be bestowed 
upon this point. 

It is customary to employ certain domestic meas- 
ures in administering the doses of medicines. Thus, 
a teaspoon is supposed to hold a fluidrachm ; a table- 
spoon, half a fluidounce. These implements are, 
however, by no means of constant size, varying 
often fifty or more per cent, from the regular stand- 
ard. It is very desirable that patients should 
supply themselves with the graduated glasses which 
may now be easily obtained, and discard altogether 
the old and inaccurate measures. 

In apportioning the quantities of the different 
elements of a prescription, the following rule will 
afford assistance: First write the names of the 
various ingredients, giving a line to each. Then, 
having decided upon the length of time that the 
patient will probably need to take the medicine, 
and determined the frequency of its administration, 
the whole number of doses is readily calculated. 
Multiply the dose of each constituent in turn by 
the whole number of doses, and write down each 
product in its proper line. 

In directions to the apothecary, it is desirable to 
observe as much brevity as is consistent with perspi- 
cuity. He is supposed to understand pharmacy, and 
it is, therefore, unnecessary to give more than general 
directions about the various steps in the operation of 
compounding the medicine. The physician orders 
certain substances to be put togetiier; the precise 
method of doing this so as to obtain the best result 
Jtis the businesa of the pharmacist to know. The 



L] RULES FOR WRITING PRESCRIPTIONS. 15 

prescriber takes care that the articles are not incom- 
patible and are capable of forming a proper mixture ; 
the rest may be lefb to the compounder. 

The foregoing directions should be observed, what- 
ever the language may be in which the prescription 
is indited. It is quite proper to write it in English, 
if one chooses. There are even some who inveigh 
acrimoniously against the practice of writing prescrip- 
tions in Latin, considering it an unnecessary trouble, 
a relic of a by-gone and less enlightened age, a 
pedantic display of useless knowledge, and, per- 
haps, other and still more objectionable things. 
But, nevertheless, it is a phenomenal occurrence to 
find a prescription written in EngUsh ; that is, 
entirely in English, even by those who deprecate 
the use of Latin. They usually unconsciously allow 
something of the berated tongue to obtain entry 
into their prescriptions, and the result is a hodge- 
podge which woidd be amusing were it not so de- 
plorable. 

In spite of all objections, Latin is by far the best 
language for prescriptions. It is not subject to the 
variations which modem languages are continually 
undergoing, being, as it were, crystallized. It is 
consequently adopted as the language for scientific 
nomenclature, and formerly scientific works were 
written in it altogether. There would seem to be 
no reason why the names of drugs should be an 
exception to the otherwise universal rule, and Latin 
is therefore employed in naming the articles of the 
pharmacopceia. It is the only language in which it 
is practicable to write the international pharma- 
copoeia, which is so important a desideratum. The 
advantage of a well-established language for scien- 
tific terminology is plainly aeeiv vdl \ks& «^^'i&Rx 
definiteness wiS wbidi ixi<^^cm<^ ts^^ ^^fe ^^i^^seis^ 



16 PRESCRIPTION WRITING. [Pakt 

In Latin. The Latin name for a drag is applied to 
no other, and one is sure to get what he desires if 
he has written for it under its scientific title, — pro- 
vided, of course, that the pharmacist does his duty. 
But, in ordering certain articles by their English 
names, we are often uncertain with what we may be 
furnished, the terms used being frequently applied 
variously. Thus, if Indian Hemp be written, mean- 
ing Apocynum Cannabinum, a diuretic, diaphoretic, 
etc., there may be put up Cannabis Indica, a stimu- 
lant-narcotic. K we order Yellow Root, hoping to 
get Xanthorrkiza, a simple bitter, we may be disap- 
pointed by receiving Hydrastis, a diuretic. So the 
word Wintergreen is applied to Ghimaphila, an 
astringent and tonic, and to Gaultheria^ a carmina- 
tive and stomachic. Checkerberry and Foxberry 
will bring us at one time the astringent and diuretic 
Uva Ursi; at another, the aromatic Gaultheria, 
Snakeroot is a name given to Serpentaria, OimicU 
fuga, Senega, Asarum, Eryngium, and other drags ; 
and Stinkpoke is the somewhat descriptive appella- 
tion of agents of widely differing powers, such as 
Dracontium, Ghenopodium, Stramonium, and Polanisia 
Graveolens. From these illustrations we see that the 
indefiniteness of an English name may occasion not 
merely inconvenience, but even disaster; and, if 
there were no other reason for using Latin, this alone 
would be sufficient. 

But these are not the only advantages which come 
from writing prescriptions in Latin. It is often desir- 
able to keep the patient in ignorance of what he is 
taking. There is a prejudice in the minds of many 
people against the use of certain drags, such as mer- 
cury, lead, etc. ; and the names of these often valua- 
ble remedies may be successfully concealed under 
tAelr technical titles, without aroxifiimg «ii «^i%^\aSsycL\i.% 



I] RULES FOR WRITING PRESCRIPTIONS. 17 

to their trae character. In most cases, indeed, it is 
better that the patient should not know the exact 
composition of his medicine. Although it may be 
the article which of all things is best adapted to his 
needs, it will be less Hkety to do him all the good 
of which it is capable, if he discovers that it is some 
common and, to his mind, ignoble weed, than if he, 
judging from its imposing name, conceives an idea 
of a rare and stately exotic. I would by no means 
be understood to advocate, in any case, the practice 
of deception with the sick, which, to say the best of 
it, is impolitic in the long nm ; nor would I defend 
the quackish habit which some pliysicians have of 
impressing their patients witii a sense of their impor- 
tance by grandiloquently airing their knowledge of 
technical expressions ; but we ought not to ignore 
the advantages whicli arise from keeping our own 
counsel at times, and the benefit which may, in a 
purely incidental way, come from the feeling of won- 
der and awe wliich, in the inind of the average man, 
is associated with the unknown. As it would often 
be cruel to the patient to volunteer, or even allow to 
be extorted, a complete pathological description and 
prognosis of his case, so it is generally unwise to 
permit him to know just what he is taking for a 
remed3\ 

A ver}' limited knowledge of Latin is sufficient to 
enable one to write prescriptions properl3\ The nec- 
essaiy* vocabulary', though comprising over six hun- 
dred words, has been almost entirely learned already 
by the student who has studied his ]\Iateria Medica 
faithfully ; and the chief difficulty to be encountered 
is in making the changes which are requisite to the 
correct grammatical wording of the directions to the 
apothecar}'. The careful study of the following aim- . 
pie rules will, it is believed, euaXiVi owi ^^^v^niSr^n.^ 



18 PRESCRIPTION WRITING, [Part 

unacquainted with Latin Grammar easily to write 
elegant prescriptions. The effort has been to reduce 
the subject to its lowest terms, to make it so readily 
comprehensible that lack of time to study Latin will 
be no excuse for a badly written prescription. 

Very few verbs are used in prescriptions. These 
are mostly imperatives addressed to the apothecary. 
Some are very conunon, occurring in a majority of 
prescriptions ; as Recipe (take) , SRsce (mix) , Signa 
(mark or label) , Fiat (let [it] be made) , or Fiant 
(let [them] be made) . Others are less common, but 
still often used, as Adde (add) , BuUiat (let it boil) , 
Cola (stram). Divide (divide), Macera (macerate), 
Repetatur (it may be repeated). Solve (dissolve), 
Sufficit (it suffices), and Tere (rub). These need 
undergo no changes. 

The last remark applies also to prepositions, con- 
junctions, and adverbs, which are quite infrequent. 
The principal are Cum (with), In (in, or into), Ad 
(to, or up to) , Et (and) , and Ana (of each) . 

Almost all the words in prescriptions are nouns 
and adjectives. 

There are five declensions, or methods of forming 
the cases, in Latin ; but, as there are no pharmaco- 
poeial words of the fifth declension, we need consider 
but four. Each declension has six cases ; but, as it 
is very rarely necessary to use more than three, the 
•others will be ignored. It will be easier to commit 
the exceptions outright and arbitrarily, than to learn 
the rule for their formation. 

The three cases which are most emploj'ed arc the 
Nominative, which corresponds exactly to our Eng- 
lish nominative ; the Genitive, the counterpart of the 
English possessive, or objective with " of;" and the 
Accusative, which takes the place of the English ob- 
Jective after a verb or preposition. T\i^a^ ^Sia^'^ ^s^ 



I.] RULES FOR WRITING PRESCRIPTIONS. 19 

distinguished by their endings, the preceding portion 
of the word being called the stem. The stem may 
be found by dropping the ending of the genitive sin- 
gular ; and the several cases may, in most instances, 
be formed by adding to this stem the case-endings. 
In all the following examples the case-endings are 
printed in Italics. 

FIRST DECLENSION. 

All pharmacopoeial nouns ending in a (excepting 
Physostigmd) are of the first declension, of the fem- 
inine gender, and are formed like Rosa} 

Singular Number. 

Nominative Rosa, a rose. a 

Genitive Ros/e, of a rose. 8B 

Accusative Rosam, a rose. am 

Plural Number. 

Nominative Rose?, roses. eo 

Genitive Rosartxm, of roses. arum 

Accusative B/osas, roses. 



It will be noticed that the stem Eos remains nn- 
changed all through the declension. Particular pains 
should be taken to become perfectly familiar with «he 
case-endings, for these are tiie great stumbling-blocks 
to students generally. 

1 There are two pharmacopoeial neons of the first declension 
which end in e ; namely, AloS and Mastiche. The case-endings 
in the singular are : 

Nominative e, 
Genitive es, 

Accusaiivt «ik. 
The plural is formed like t\v&t ol Bosa. 



20 PRESCRIPTION WRITING, [Pakt 



SECOND DECLENSION. 

All pharmacopoeial nouns ending in us (excepting 
Rhus and the three nouns of the fourth declension) 
are of the second declension, mostly of the mascu- 
line gender, and are formed like Bubus,^ 

Singular Number* 

Nominative Rubus, a blackberry. ua 

Genitive Rubi, of a blackberry. i 

Accusative Rubwm, a blackberry. mn 

Plural Number, 

Nominative Rubi, blackberries. i 

Genitive Ruboram, of blackberries. omm 

Accusative Rubos, blackberries. os 

All pharmacopoeial nouns ending in um are of 
the second declension, of the neuter gender, and are 
formed like Acidum,^ 

^ There is one pharmacopoeial noun of the second declension 
which ends in os; namely, Pnnos. The case-endings in the 
singular are : 

Nominative os, 

Genitive 1, 

Accusative on. 

The plural is formed like that of Rnhus. 

2 There are three pharmacopoeial nouns of the second de- 
clension which end in on ; namel^r, Erythroxylon, Ucematoxylon, 
and Toxicodendron^. The case-endings m the singular are ; 

Nominative on, 
Genitive i. 

Accusative on. 

The plural is declined like that of Acidum, 



L] RULES FOR WRITING PRESCRIPTIONS. 21 



Nominative 

Genitive 

Accusative 



Nominative 

Genitive 

Accusative 



Singular Number. 

Acidum, an acid. um 

Acidt, of an acid. i 

Acidum, an acid. um 

Plural Number. 

Acida, acids. a 

Acidorum, of acids. orum 

Acida, acids. a 



Notice, here and everywhere, that the accusative 
of a neuter is always like the nominative of the same 
number. 



THIRD DECLENSION. 

Declinable pharmacopoeial nouns having other nom- 
inative endings than a, US, and uni; are (with six 
exceptions ^) of the third declension. Thej' are 
mostly masculines and feminines, and these are 
declined like Liquor. 



Nominative 

Genitive 

Accusative 



Nominative 

Genitive 

Accusative 



Singular Number. 

Liquor, a solution. — 

Liquor^, of a solution. ia 

Liquorem, a solution. em 

Plural Number. 

Liquored, solutions. ea 

Liquorum, of solutions. um 

Liquored, solutions. es 



Some of them are neuter, and are declined like 
Marmor. 

1 The exceptions are the two nouns in e, of the first declen- 
sion, and the one in o«, and three vxi on^ oil NJfta ^jsiRRrcw^^-sJ^ <:^. 
which have been previotialy cou^xOl^t^^. 



22 



PRESCRIPTION WRITING. 



[Tart 



Nominatioe 

Genitive 

Accusative 



Nominative 

Genitive 

Accusative 



Singular Number. 

Marmor, marble. 

Marmons, of marble. 
Mannar, marble. 

Plural Nundter, 

Marmora, marbles. 

Marmorum, of marbles. 
Marmora, marbles. 



nm 



In the two examples given, the nominatiye is the 
stem, and there is no case-ending. In many other 
words a nominative ending, as is or e, occors ; in 
others still the nominatiye not only lacks an ending, 
but is less than, and sometimes otherwise different 
from, the stem. These can easily be learned by 
studying the list of words of the third declension in 
the Second Part of the book. 



FOURTH DECLENSION. 

Three pharmacopceial nouns ending in ns are of 
ao fourth declension, and are formed like Fructtis. 
<)ne of them, Spiritus^ is of the masculine gender, 
and two, Gornus and Quercus, are feminine. 



Nominative 

Genitive 

Accusative 



Nominative 
Genitive 



Singular Number, 

Fructws, the fruit. 

Fructu5, of the fruit. 
Fructum, the fruit. 

Plural Number, 

Fructiw, the fruits. 

Fructiium, of the fruits. 
Fructus, the iimta. 



urn 



uum 



LI RULES FOR WRITING PRESCRIPTIONS, 23 



The following table will show at a glance the end- 
ings of these three cases in both numbers of all 
four declensions: — 

Singular Number. 





First 
Deolrn. 


Sboomd 
Deolen. 


Third 
Declbn. 


Fourth 
Declen. 


Nominative 

Genitive 

Accusative 


a 

8B 


Maae. Neuter 

ua um 

i 
um 


Ua80.&Fem. Neat. 

(Various) 

is 

em Like Norn. 


us 
us 
um 






Plural Number. 




Nominative 

Genitive 

Accusative 


8B 

arum 
as 


i a 

Drum 
oa a 


es a 

um 
es a 


us 

uum 

us 



The plural cases are quite infrequently used in 
prescriptions, except in naming the quantities of the 
mgredients. The ablative case occurs in the pharma- 
copoeia only after the preposition cum^ and then only 
as follows: cum Creta (with Chalk), cum Galce 
(with Lime), cum Gantharide (with Cantharides) , 
cum Ferro (with Iron), cum Hydrargyro (with Mer- 
curj'), cum Magnesia (with Magnesia). Cum semisse 
(with a half) is used often in prescriptions. 

A few nouns employed in prescriptions are inde- 
clinable, that is to say, have the same form in every 
case, both singular and plural. A Ust of them is 
given in the Second Part. 

The adjectives used in prescriptions are declined 
like nouns, those ending in a like Rosa,^ in us like 
Bubus,^ in nm like Acidum,^ and all others tike 
the nouns of the third declension. 

^ Excepting una, whose genitive is uni'u^. ^ ^ 

■ Excepting unus, wUobq geiii\AN^\a>Mvv»^%5A Jw\.\»»>'^^«^5'^^ 
is of the third declension. 

* Excepting unum, whose getiWVj^Na w»m*- 



24 PRESCRIPTION WRITING. [Part 

Adjectives agi'ee with the nouns to which they 
belong in gender, number, and case. 

Sometimes adjectives are of the same declension as 
the nouns with which they agree, as in these iUus- 
trations: Amygdala Amara, both being of the first 
declension ; Acidum Ihnnicum, both of tlie second de- 
clension ; jEther Fortior^ both of the third declension. 

But \evy often adjectives are of different declen- 
sions from the nouns with which the}' agree. The 
following are examples of this statement : Amygdaia 
Dulcis, the noun of the first declension, the adjective 
of the thii'd ; Veratrum Viride^ noun of the second, 
adjective of the third ; Calx Chlorata., noun of the 
third, adjective of the first ; Sulphur Lotum, noun of 
the third, adjective of the second. 

Sometimes, as in English, a noun has more than 
one adjective agreeing with it, as Extractum Sarsa- 
parillce Compositum Fluidum* 

To illustrate these directions, we will take an ex- 
ample of a prescription written in EngUsh, and ren- 
der it in Latin. 

Take of Sulphate of Iron one scruple, 

of Extract of Quassia two drachms. 
IMix them and divide into twenty-five pills. 
Mark. For Mr. John Jacens. Take one pill half an 
hour before each meal. 

Peter Probang, M.D., 
21, III, 1875. 8 Laudanum Lane. 

Translated into Latin, this would read as fol- 
lows : — 

Recipe Ferri Sulphatis scrupulum unum, 
Extracti Quassise drachmas duas. 
Misce et in pilulas viginti quinque divide. 
Signa. For Mr. John Jacens. Take one pill half an 
hour before each meal. 

Peter Probakg, M.D., 

^■I, III, 1875. ^ l^SC\l^Wi»H!L\iWLA. 



L] RULES FOR WRITING PRESCRIPTIONS ^5 

Let us now examine this translation in detail, and 
see the reason for each step in the process. 

It will be remembered that a prescription was de- 
fined to be a formula consisting of dii'ections to an 
apothecary. We commence by conmianding him to 
" take " definite quantities of certain things which we 
desire to have associated in the medicine. So we 
employ the imperative singular of the Latin verb 
Recipio (I take), which is Recipe (take thou). The 
subject (thou) it is as unnecessary to express in 
Latin as in EngUsh. Now, the first thing which he 
is to take is " one scruple " of a certain drug ; and, 
as *' scruple," being the immediate object of " take," 
is in the objective case, the Latin equivalent must be 
in the corresponding case, namely, the accusative. 
Scrupulus is the Latin for scruple, and, as it is of the 
second declension, the accusative is scrupulum. So 
we have Recipe scrupulum. This would suflSciently 
indicate the niunber ; but it is customary to aflfix a 
numeral adjective to all the nouns denoting measure 
and weight, so we take the accusative of unus (one) , 
which, likewise being of the second declension, is 
unum. It would not answer to take the accusative of 
una, which also means one ; for the adjective must 
agree with its noun in gender as well as in uimiber 
and case, and scrupulus being mascuhne, needs an 
adjective of the same gender to go with it. The ter- 
mination us shows unus to be mascuhne, while the 
final a of una stamps it as feminine. This makes 
Recipe scrupulum unum. The drug of which we want 
one scniple is the Sulphate of Iron, of which the 
pharmacopoeial name is Ferri Sulphas, Ferri is the 
genitive of Ferrum (Iron), and means, therefore, 
"of Iron." Sulphas means Sulphate, or The Sul- 
phate. The Latin order in many iu8ta.CLQft& ^\»sisi». 
the limiting genitive belote l\i"^ \iO\£Ml•a5o;s^^ *CSiss^^ 



26 PRESCRIPTION WRITING. [Pakx 

the sense is the same whatever the arrangement may 
be. But as we write in English "one scruple of 
Sulphate of Iron," so we must change the word 
Sulphas (Sulphate) to mean "of Sulphate." This 
we can do by using the genitive case. Turning to 
the Second Part of the book, we find in the Hst of 
nouns of the third declension that the genitive of 
Sulphas is Sulphatis. So we now have Eecipe scru- 
pidum unum Ferri Sulphatis, or, to observe the usual 
order in prescriptions, by which the names of the 
ingredients are placed before the words designating 
the amount of each, Recipe Ferri Sulphatis scrupulum 
unutn. The word Ferri needed no change, of course, 
already meaning exactly what we want, " of Iron." 

In translating the second line of the prescription, 
we proceed in precisely the same way. Thus, as 
"drachms" is in the objective case after "take," 
we wiite the accusative plural of drachma^ which is 
drcuihmas. As " two" drachms are ordered, we aflSx 
the accusative of dua,^ the feminine form of the 
Latin numeral which means two, thus making an 
agreement of gender between the adjective and noun, 
and have drachmas duos. The article of which this 
quantity is ordered is Extract of Quassia, in Latin 
Extractum Quassice ; but as we write " of Extract of 
Quassia," we must use the genitive case of Extractum^ 
which is Extracti, Quassice, the genitive of Quassia^ 
means "of Quassia," and stands unchanged. The 
second line, then, will be Drachmas duos Extracti 
Quassia, or, to correspond with the arrangement of 
the first hue, Extracti Quassice drachmas duas. 

In rendering " Mix them " in Latin, we may omit 
the pronoun, as there could not be any consequent 
mistake, and write simply the second person singular 



'' See declenaioB of namerals on page i). 



I-l RULES FOR WRITING PRESCRIPTIONS 27 

imperative of Misceo (I mix) , which is Misce. * ' And '* 
is et. *' Divide " is translated by the second person 
singular imperative of Divido (I divide), which is 
Divide. For " into" we substitute in, a preposition 
which is followed by the accusative case; so we 
write after it pilulas, the accusative plural of pilula 
(a pill), and thus render the word '* pills." The 
Latin for " twenty-five" is vigirUi quinque^ an inde- 
clinable numeral. Following the usage of the lan- 
guage which places the verb last, we have for this 
line, Misce, et in piliUas mginti quinque divide. 

Next comes the direction "Mark," which we 
translate by Signa, the second person singular im- 
perative of Signo (I mark) . Now, every thhig which 
follows this verb should be transferred to the label on 
the medicine. It is the directions to or about the 
patient, and these we want to have as plain to him 
as they can possibly be made. So we do not turn 
into Latin any thing which follows Signa, Let no 
one object that this is a mixing of tongues such 
as has been deprecated in a preceding page; for 
the directions to the patient are, as far as the 
apothecary is concerned, to be regarded as so many 
arbitrary signs. Indeed, it is not impossible that 
they might weU be hieroglyphics in certain cases. 
It undoubtedly sometimes happens that the direc- 
tions to the patient are in a language which the 
apothecary does not understand; and, in such a 
case, his duty is to copy the words between Signa 
and the doctor's signature literatim. In so doing he 
is simply following instructions, which are to mark 
on the label whatever follows Signa. It is the cus- 
tom in some other countries for the physician to 
write the directions in Latin, and for the pharmaceu- 
tist to translate them into English otl tij^fc V^&SsssJs.* 
Aside from the fact thai t\i\a \a \io\. ^ ^N;xv^\. ^^"aKc^' 



28 PRESCRIPTION WRITING. [Part 

ance of directions, the usage is undesirable, first, on 
the ground that the compounder may be unable to 
translate the Latin into the tongue which alone the 
patient and his attendants can understand ; and, 
second, because the liabiKty to mistake is somewhat 
increased by the passage of the orders through a 
second language. In the United States it is the 
nearly universal custom to write the directions for 
administration just as they are intended to be on the 
label. This practice is as different from the jumbUng 
of languages which is often seen in the naming of the 
medicines in prescriptions, as are successive remarks 
of two people of different nationaUties, each in his 
own vernacular, from the macaronic gabble of silly 
school-girls who like to air their httle French and 
Italian on every occasion. 

After this comes the address of the prescriber, 
and, finally, the date. 

Now, here is a prescription written out in full, as 
hardly one in a million is written ; for it is customary 
everywhere to adopt abbreviations for every part of 
the work. Some of these are desirable, others are 
permissible but generally to be avoided, and others 
still are never to be countenanced. 

Those of the first class are desirable because they 
shorten the writing without diminishing its clearness 
Some of them are real abbreviations, others are arbi- 
trary signs. Recipe is represented by its initial 
letter ; but it is a common practice to draw a straight 
mark across the quirk of the R, making the char- 
acter R. The origin of this habit is curious. The 
ancient physicians, who worshipped the now exiled 
gods of OljTnpus, were accustomed to commence 
their prescriptions with a praj-er to Jove, whose 
hlessing they invoked on the action of the medicine. 
Probably this petition was never very loii^^ wid we 



I.] RULES FOR WRITING PRESCRIPTIONS. 29 

can easily believe that, foUowing the tendency of 
prayers and oaths to diminish in length according to 
the frequency of their repetition, it rapidly lessened. 
At all events, we know that the expression of it 
finally dwindled to the brevity of the astronomical 
sign of Jupiter, u. AVhen Christianity supplanted 
the older religion, the custom of soliciting divine ap- 
proval of the dose continued, and prescriptions were 
headed with condensed acknowledgments of a super- 
natural being whose favor would make the medicine 
curative, and whose disapproval would render it of no 
avail. These supplications were compressed into 
Aq, a pmyer to the eternal beginning and end, the 
first and the last, the Alpha and Omega of all 
things ; N. D., the initials of Nomine Dei (in the 
name of God) ; J. D., Juvcmte Deo (Grod helping) ; 
J. J., Juvante Jesu (Jesus helping) ; and, most ad- 
mirable of all as regards conciseness, -|-, the simplest 
sign of the cross of Calvary. But, although Christi- 
anity has progressed, and the former theology is now 
remembered only as an interesting superstition of a 
childish age, the Christian s3'mbols have faUen into 
complete desuetude, and the mark, which so many 
centuries ago represented a devout petition to the 
great thunderer, is still seen at the head of our pre- 
scriptions, modified by the addition of the perpen- 
dicular stroke, which makes it equally the initial of 
Recipe, and the prayer to Jove. Octarius (a pint) 
and Congius (a gallon) are reduced to their initials, 
O and C. Quantum sufficit (a sufiSeicnt qnantit}') is 
represented by q. $. Minimum (a minim) is indicated 
by m, or by m. Granum (a grain) is condensed 
into gr. ; gutta (a drop), into gtt. ; semissis (& half), 
and cum seniisse (with a half) , into ss ; and libra (^ 
pound), into lb. Arbitrary si[g^\skaixfc\s«ft\^ ^i^^s^n^ 
fbr the representation of drachma (^a ^kX«^*^^xfi^^ - 



30 PRESCRIPTION WRITING, [Part 

uncia (an ounce), g, and scrupulm (a scrapie), 9; 
and, when a fluidrachm or a fluidounce is wanted, 
the letter f is placed before the sign for drachm or 
ounce, as the case may be. An abbreviation or sign 
stands for any case of the Latin noun which it repre- 
sents. The Roman numerals are used instead of the 
full Latin numeral adjective ; so we have i, v, x, c, 
d, etc. As I and J were interchangeable in the 
original Latin, it is customary to write j instead of i, 
when the latter would stand as the last letter in a 
numeral combination, thus, ij, vj, xij, instead of ii, 
vi, xii ; but this is, of course, a matter of no con- 
siderable consequence. It will be observed that the 
lower-case characters are used instead of capitals. 

Next, there are some abbreviations which are per- 
missible. Most of the names designating the kinds 
of pharmaceutical preparations come under this head. 
Thus, we may make the first few letters of a noun or 
adjective stand for any of its cases, as piL for 
pilula, chart, for chartula, mist, for misturay liq, for 
liquor^ puiv, for pulvis, tinct. for tinctura, syr, for «yrw- 
pus^ aq, for aqucL, comp, for compositus, composita^ or 
compositum, Jl, for Jluidus, Jlmda, or fluidum^ diL for 
dtlutus, diluta, or dilutum. It is likewise very com- 
mon to reduce the names of the drugs in the same 
wa}', as Hydrarg, for Hydrargyrum^ Morph. for MoT" 
phinn^ BeUad, for Belladonna^ Ipecac, for Ipecacuanha^ 
Antim, for Anttmonium, Amyg, for Amygdala. Ana 
is contracted into aa, A number of the verbs which 
are employed are abbreviated, jiat and jlant becom- 
ing ft,^ divide shortening into div.^ and misce and 
signa dwindhng into M. and S. respectively. A few 
of these are so obvious as almost to belong in the 
class of desirables. 

Finall)' come those which are never to be toloratedy 
and they are pat in this claaa oi \TVQi'!LC.\iasJ;Aea be* 



I.] RULES FOR WRITING PRESCRIPTIONS. 31 

cause of their ambiguity. Examples are found in 
Acid. Sulph.^ which may mean Acidum Sulphuricum 
or Acidum Sulphurosum ; Hydr, Chlor, which might be 
Hydrargyri Chloridum^ or Hydras Ghloralis ; Add. 
Hydroc.^ which is equally an abbreviation of Addwn 
Hydrochloricum^ and Acidum Hydrocyanicum. One 
who knows any thing of the physiological action of 
these agents will see at once that here are chances 
for mistakes which might be not only injurious, but 
even deadly. The principle to guide us in all abbre- 
viating is the rule of clearness. K a word when 
abbreviated could possibly be mistaken for any 
other, write it out in full. And, indeed, in all cases, 
excepting those first mentioned, it is far better to 
write every letter. There can then be no question 
as to the meaning. If the objection is raised that 
tliis method takes more time, it may be suggested 
that when a physician's business is so extensive that 
he cannot spare an extra minute on each prescrip- 
tion for the sake of protecting his patient from the 
danger of taking the wrong medicine, it behooves 
him to consider whether his duty to the sick and 
tx) himself does not require such a reduction of 
his work as will allow him to devote enough time 
and attention to every case to ti^eat it in all 
respects with deliberate care. Human life and 
health are too precious to be trifled with, and 
hurry (I do not mean rapidity) in therapeutics is a 
sin. Physicians who have long and, so far as they 
know, safely abbreviated may scout these ideas, and 
scoff at what they may think the pedantry of a fully 
expressed prescription ; but no such comments will 
be made by apothecaries, who are so often perplexed 
and harassed by these abridgments, which, if the 
truth were to be told, owe their eidatiKMifc \fc'a»k ^s»r 
gnently to lack of time tYiaii \jo \!givat»xvR.^« 



:= zj:^m'jr ¥:i:'^:nb. jr 












r. 



•_!" 



A . a>k. • 



'■ III •taiau^ sad —of 
•'-. T nT ire J r wi ' iJ' jy >■ - L'Tmniaiiiid Ex- 



' .' ?:7i Sl" ■' ziM 'Wi'T'ta UTrti^ vnawipittf into 

m 

''.i.ri..*'-p i.T:L _iri'C uiiz ^p'tdF. ~~ Genius'" in 
*" v^ -i^~-i.i.>r T-n^-i :»t ir-m*r^ ^DJ ArtTTDSSMTW {?}nnd 
'/ r-i.f { n Lit: ^itr filler: :»"?iH':^ rif A«»JBrc —each" 
it i:i:: ii_rr~-rr-: ' i^ ^^'Cbsc cits ema Kraits the 

♦i'.'^i'-irr"': '. '-ij.T!^T~ i§ f-irSk^L'w pL-^-fr, Tlie rest 
sjiA r><*^i ^a:;,viJL»"r-i i»rfore- Ti?c ijij>wi!^ is the 

K. Eztnw,':; C'oVjrjiiihizji Compos:*! gr. xxxij, 

iiy^irnriQ-n Cbionii Mitis. anm gr. xxir, 

(/^m\ff)^y4t gr. rj, 
A'l'i;/; *j. "I. 
"hVt^t'j*.. Jfi pilij1aa( xxiv divide. 

Hiif;poH<? w« want to prcftcribe a dozen of these 
ffllU, wliirli, hvAW^ ofTicirial, are kept ready made in 
nil NliopNf fuid an; known a» Piluhs CcUAarticte Com- 
piinihp* Wn wrlUj : — 

11 Vlhihxn (yailiartlQaii Compo«\t.«a x\V 



I.] RULES FOR WRITING PRESCRIPTIONS. 36 

Here it will be observed that the name of the 
medicine is written in tlie accusative case, instead of 
the genitive, as is usual ; for the reason that there is 
no noun of weight or capacity to stand as immediate 
object of Recipcy but only the name of the medicine 
itself, with a limiting numeral adjective agreeing 
with it. If we ordered pills by the pound or pint, we 
should then be obliged to put their name in the geni- 
tive ; as, for example, as follows : R. Pilularum 
Catharticarum Compositarum octarium unum ; that 
is. Take one pint of Compound Cathartic Pills. 

Another example : — 

Take of Carbolic Acid two drachms, 

of Alcohol, 

of Glycerine, each, one onnce, 

of Water six ounces. 
Mix. Mark, Use as a lotion. 

Employing the accredited abbreviations, and tak- 
ing it for granted that the rules already repeatedly 
illustrated are understood, it will readily be seen how 
this becomes 

R. Acidi Carbolic! 3i], 

Alcoholis, 

Glycerini, ana 5j» 

Aquae Jvj. 
Misce. Sigua, Use as a lotion. 

Occasionally the physician, having decided upon 
the whole quantity of his prescription, finds that, 
after having written down the names and amounts of 
all the active elements, some inert substance is needed 
to make up the required bulk, or to act as vehicle 
for the rest In such cases it is the custom of some, 
instead of reckoning the exact amoiwvt oC \!sssi. ^^^- 
tional substance, to order \,Y\^ «:^o\}aft.^«t^ Va vq^*''^^ 



36 PRESCRIPTION WRITING. [Part 

enough of it to make the whole measure, or weigh, so 
much. This is usually expressed by the preposition 
ady here meaning " up to." For example, take this 
prescription : — 

R. Potassii Bromidi gjss, 

Ammonii Bromidi 3iv, 

Extracti Conii Fluidi 3iv, 

Extracti Juglandis Fluidi §ij, 

Aquae ad §vj. 
Misce. 

Though this practice is quite common, and is proper 
enough in itself considered, it is not altogether un- 
objectionable. I have known at least one instance 
in which an apothecary, who was unfamiliar with 
this style of writing prescriptions, translated the 
Latin preposition by the verb which has the same 
pronunciation in English, and actually aeMed a num- 
ber of ounces of S3Tup where only a few drachms 
were ordered. Until we can confidently count on a 
more extensive knowledge than such compounders 
display, it will be safer to reckon the quantity of 
each ingredient ourselves. 

A few words which are not pharmacopoeial, and 
not names of medicines, are often convenient in pre- 
scriptions. The chief of those not already mentioned 
are char tula (a powder), pars (a part), lagena (a 
bottle), scatula (a box), capsula (a capsule), tEqtta-' 
lis (equal). Chartula literally means " a little sheet 
of paper," but is used to designate one of the equal 
parts of a pulverized medicine enclosed in a bit of 
paper, and ordinarily called " a powder." Puhns is 
the name applied to a powdered substance, chartula 
to a little package of it prepared as a dose. Thus, 
if we desire to give a patient several doses of Dover's 
Powder, we may write : — 



L] RULES FOR WRITING PRESCRIPTIONS. 37 

R. Pulveris Ipecacuanhse et Opii 3 j. 
In chartulas sex divide. 
Signa, One at^a dose. 

Here we say, In chartulas instead of In pulveresj 
because we not only want the Dover's Powder divided 
into six parts, but we want each of these done up in 
a little paper. Pars is employed when we order a 
fraction of any measure or weight, as grant partem seX' 
tam^ — the sixth part of a grain. Lagena is con- 
venient in ordering some preparation which is usually 
kept in the shops in bottles of a given capacity, as 
the Solution of Citrate of Magnesium, which is put 
up in twelve-ounces bottles, one of which we may 
order thus : — 

R. Liquoris Magnesii Citratis lagenam. 

Sometimes favorite preparations are kept on hand 
in little boxes, each containing a known number of 
lozenges, pills, or other dry solids ; and one of these 
packages may be had under the name of scaiiUa. 
Medicines of disagreeable taste, which may be ad- 
ministered in small doses, are often ^advantageously 
enclosed in capsules of gelatine or jujube paste. 
When we desire this, we use the word capsula^ just as 
in some other cases we do chartula. The numeral 
adjectives and adverbs will be found in the Second 
Part. 

There are a few very common inaccuracies which 
seem worthy of mention. It is improper to write 
Fiat Alistura instead of Misce, unless the preparation 
is really to be a pharmacopoeial Mistura, that is, a 
suspension of an insoluble substance in an aqueous 
fluid. It is incorrect to write grs* as the abbreviation 
for grana, because there is no s in the word which 
is shortened. The proper reductiow Ya» gprA<5it.^^3R5^a. 
singular and plural. So, «\ao^ ^pxlxaa «x^^ ^>V.>iVx^ 



88 PRESCBTPTION WRITING, [Part 1 

should be abridged into piL^ and not pilL Once in a 
while a prescription is seen in which the s is left out 
of Misce, — an error which is suggestive of the super- 
stitions and barbarisms of medicine hundreds of years 
ago. 

It would be easy to multiply examples of prescrip- 
tion-writing, but it is believed that enough have been 
given to illustrate the principles which must be ob- 
served in the work. The student is recommended to 
practise diUgentiy in turning such English prescrip- 
tions as he may come across into proper Latin, and 
in correcting those which he finds are faulty. As 
abbreviations and signs are universally allowed in 
certain parts of prescriptions, the main difficulty will 
be experienced in changing the pharmacopoeial names 
from nominative into genitive. Especial stress is, 
therefore, laid upon the necessity of learning the rules 
for the formation of this case, and fixing them in 
memory, as can be done only by persistent applica- 
tion and practice. 



SECOND PART. 



WORDS USED m WRITING PRESCRIPTIONS. 

In this part are collected the Latin words which 
are used in naming the drugs and preparations of the 
United States Pharmacopoeia, and such unofficinal 
medicinal articles as are extensively ordered in pre- 
scriptions ; also, other words which are necessary or 
convenient in prescription-writing. The botanical 
names of the plants from which vegetable medicines 
are derived are not given, unless &ey chance to be 
identical with the pharmacopoeial names, for the rea- 
son that the latter only are used in prescriptions. 

The following hints will assist in the use of this 
vocabulary : — 

K a word ends in a, it probably will be found in 
List I. K not, it is most lU^ely the nominative plural 
of some word in List in. 

Words ending in us are mostly in List II. 

A final urn generally points to List III. 

If a word ends in CB, it is probably the genitive of 
some word in List I. 

The termination 1 almost certainly indicates the 
genitive of a word in List 11 or List ni. 

The ending is usually means that the ^otd ^ ^ 
genitive of some memY)ex oi "L^aVTSf • 



40 



PRESCRIPTION WRITING. 



[Pabt 



LIST I. 



FIRST DECLENSION. 

Nouns and adjectives ending in a, declined like 
Rosa (see page 19). 

All nouns and adjectives in a which are used in 
prescriptions are thus declined, excepting Physo- 
stigma (see List IV), Coca (see List VI), and una 
(see page 49). 



Acacia. 

Alba. 

Aloina. 

Althaea. 

Amara. 

Americana. 

Ammouia. 

Ammoniata. 

Amygdala. 

Antifebrina. 

Antipyrina. 

Apomorphina. 

Aqua. 

Arnica. 

Aromatica. 

Asafoetida. 

Atropina. 

Avena. 

Bacca. 

Belladonna. 

Berberiua. 

Brayera. 

Bryonia. 

Burgundica. 

Caffeina. 

Calendula. 

Calumba, 



Cambosda. 

Camphors. 

Camphorata. 

Capsula. 

Cascara. 

Cascarilla. 

Cassia. 

Castanea. 

Cathartica. 

Centifolia. 

Cera. 

Cetraria. 

Charta. 

Chartula. 

Chimaphila. 

Chirata. 

Chlorata. 

Cimicifuga. 

Cinchona. 

Cinchonina. 

Cinchonidina. 

Cocaina. 

Codeina. 

Composita. 

Convallaria. 

Copaiba. 

Creta. 



Cubeba. 

Deodorata. 

Destillata 

Dimidia. 

Drachma. 

Dulcamara. 

Ergota. 

Fistula. 

Flava. 

Fluidrachma. 

Fluiduncia. 

Frangula. 

Galla. 

Gallica. 

Gaultheria. 

Gentiana. 

Glabra. 

Glycyrrhiza. 

Grindelia. 

Guarana. 

Gutta. 

Gutta-percha. 

Hedeoma. 

Herba. 

Hvoscyamina. 

Ichthyocolla. 



n.] 



WORDS USED IN WRITING. 



41 



Indica. 

Inula. 

Ipecacuanlia. 

Jalapa. 

Kamala. 

Kraraeria. 

Lagena. 

Lappa. 

Lavandula. 

Leptandra. 

Libra. 

Liquida. 

Lobelia. 

Magnesia. 

Magnolia. 

Manna. 

Massa. 

Matricai'ia. 

Medulla. 

Melissa. 

Mentha. 

Mistura. 

Mouobromata. 

Morphina. 

Morrhua. 

Myrcia. 

Myristica. 

Myrrha. 

Narcotina. 



Nigra. 


Sarsaparilla. 


Oleoresina. 


Scatula. 


Oliva. 


Scilla. 


Pareira. 


Scutellaria. 


Physostigrnina. 


Senega. 


Phytolacca. 


Senna. 


Pilocarpina. 


Serpentaria. 


Pilula. 


Soda. 


Pimenta. 


Sparteina. 


Piperina. 


Spigelia. 


Piperita. 


Staphisagria. 


Ponderosa. 


Stillingia. 


PotaRsa. 


Strychnina. 


Praeparata. 


Sulphurata. 


Pulsatilla. 


Terebinthina 


Purificata. 


Theobroma. 


Quassia. 


Thuja. 


Quillaia. 


Tinctura. 


Quinina. 


Tolutana. 


Quinidina. 


Tragacantha. 


Resin a. 


Uncia. 


Rosa. 


Uva. 


Rubra. 


Valeriana. 


Ruta. 


Vanilla. 


Sabina 


Veratrina. 


Salvia. 


Viola. 


Sanguinaria. 


Virginiana. 


Santonica. 


Vomica. 



Nouns ending in e (see foot-note, page 19). 
Aloe. Mastiche. 



42 



PRESCRIPTION WRITING. 



[Part 



LIST n. 



SECOND DECLENSION. 

Nouns and adjectives ending in us, declined like 
Ruhus (see page 20). 

All nouns and adjective in us which are used in 
prescriptions are thus declined, excepting Fortius 
and Rhus (see List IV), the nouns of the fouith 
declension (see List V), and unus (see page 49). 

[The (f.) after a word means that it is feminine.] 



Aceticus. 

Aromatic us. 

Benzoinatus. 

Calamus. 

Caryophylius. 

Chondrus. 

Coccus. 

Compositus. 

Congius. 

Crocus. 

Dilutus. 

Dimidius. 

Eucalyptus. 

Euonymus. 

Exsiccatus. 

Ficus. 



Flavus. 

Fusus. 

Granulatus. 

Humulus. 

Hyoscyamus. 

Juniperus (f.). 

Moschus. 

Nitrosus. 

Octarius. 

Odoratus. 

Phosphorus. 

Pilocarpus. 

Praecipitatus. 

Prunus. 

Purificatus. 

Ricinus. 



Rosmarinus. 

Rubus. 

Saccharatus. 

Sambucus (f.). 

Scoparius. 

Scrupulus. 

Succus. 

Syrupus. 

Thymus. 

Tolutanus. 

Trochiscus. 

Ulmus (f.). 

Uraus. 

Vitellus. 



Noun ending in 08 (see foot-note, page 20). 

Prinos. 



II.] 



WORDS USED IN WRITING. 



43 



LIST III. 



SECOND DECLENSION. 

Nouns and adjectives ending in um, declined like 
Addum (see page 21). 

All nouns and adjectives in um which are used in 
prescriptions are thus declined, excepting unum (see 
page 49). 



Absinthium. 

Abstractum. 

Aceticum. 

Acetum. 

Acidum. 

Aconitum. 

^thereum. 

Album. 

Alcoholicum. 

Alkalinum. 

Allium. 

Aluminium. 

Amarum. 

Ammoniacum. 

Ammoniatum. 

Ammonium. 

Amylum. 

Anisum. 

Antimonium. 

Apioleum. 

Apocynum. 

Aquosum. 

Argentum. 

Aromaticura. 

Arseniosum. 

Arsenium. 

Aspidium. 

Aurantium. 

Aurum. 



Balsamum. 

Benzinum. 

Benzoicum. 

Benzoin um. 

Bergamium (?). 

Bismuthum. 

Bisulphidum. 

Boricum. 

Bromidum. 

Bromum. 

Calcium. 

Capsicum. 

Carbolicum. 

Carboneum. 

Cardamomum. 

Carum. 

Caulophillum. 

Ceratum. 

Cerium. 

Cetaceum. 

Chelidonium. 

Chenopodium. 

Chinoidinum. 

Chloridum. 

Chloroform um. 

Chlorum. 

Chromicum. 

Chrysarobinum. 

CiuuamomutCL. 



Citricum. 

Colchicum. 

Collodium. 

Compositum. 

Conium. 

Coriandrum. 

Corrosivum. 

Creasotum. 

Crudum. 

Cuprum. 

Cyanidum. 

Cydonium. 

Cypripedium. 

Decoctum. 

Denarcotisatum. 

Despumatum. 

Dialysatum. 

Dilutum. 

Dimidium. 

Elaterinum. 

Emplastrum. 

Eupatorium. 

Expressum. 

Exsiccatum. 

Extractum. 

Ferrocyanidum. 

Ferrum. 

Flavum.. 



44 



PRESCRIPTION WRITING. 



[Part 



Foeniculum. 

Folium. 

Frumentum. 

Galbanum. 

Gallicum. 

Gelsemium. 

GeraDium. 

Glycerinum. 

Glyceritum. 

Glycyrrhizinum. 

Gossypium. 

Grammarium. 

Granatum. 

Granum. 

Guaiacum. 

Hydrargyrum. 

Hydratum. 

Hydriodicum. 

Hydrobromicum. 

Hydrochloricum. 

Hydrocyanicum. 

lUicium. 

lufusum. 

Ingluvinum. 

Inspissatum. 

lodatum. 

lodidum. 

lodum. 

Lacticum. 

Lactucarium. 

Lignum. 

Linimentum. 

Linum. 

Lithium. 

Lotum. 

Lupulinum. 

Lycopodium. 

Magnesium. 



Maltum. 

Manganum. 

Marrubium. 

Mezereum. 

Minimum. 

Nigrum. - 

Nitricum. 

Nitroglycerinum 

Nitrohydrochlo- 

ricum. 
Oleatum. 
Oleicum. 
Oleum. 
Opium. 
Origanum. 
Ovum. 
Oxidatura. 
Oxidum. 
Oxygenium. 
Pancreatinum. 
Pepsinum. 
Peruvianum. 
Petrolatum. 
Petroleum. 
Phosphidum. 
Phosphoratum. 
Phosphoricum. 
Picrotoxinum. 
Plumbium. 
Podophyllum. 
Potassium. 
Pr^cipitatum. 
Prunum. 
Purificatum. 
Purum. 
Pyre thrum. 
Pyroxilinum. 
Quantum. 



Reductum. 

Resorcinum. 

Rheum. 

Rubrum. 

Saccharatam. 

Saccharum. 

Salicinum. 

Salicylicum. 

Santalum. 

Santoninum. 

Scammonium. 

Sesamum. 

Sevum. 

Sodium. 

Stramonium. 

Stypticum. 

Sublimatum. 

Succinum. 

Sulphidum. 

Sulphuratum. 

Sulphuricum. 

Sulphurosum. 

Suppositorium. 

Taoacum. 

Tanacetum. 

Tannicum. 

Taraxacum. 

Tartaricum. 

Tiglium. 

Tolutanum. 

Triticum. 

Unguentum. 

Veratrum. 

Viburnum. 

Vinum. 

Xanthozylam. 

Xericum. 

Zincum. 



Nouns ending in on (see foot-note, page 20). 
£!rytbroxylon, Hsematoxylou. laxAacA^iitesii, 



II.] WORDS USED IN WRITING. 45 

LIST IV. 
THIRD DECLENSION. 

Nouns and adjectives of various endings, declined 
like Liquor (see page 21) or Marmor (see page 22). 

The first column contains the nominative, the sec- 
ond the genitive, of each word. In the genitive 
column all but the case-ending is is the stem to which 
the proper ending of each case is affixed. The neu-? 
ters are marked as such. (See rule about accusatives 
of neuters, page 21.) 

These words are far more difficult to form than 
those of an}'^ other declension, and must, for the most 
part, be learned arbitraril}*, b}' sheer force of memor}'. 
A little help may be found in the fact that more than 
one fourth of them end in as, and that of these all 
but one (Asclepias) change the as to atis in the 
genitive. 

Acetas. Acetatis. 

Adeps. Adipis. 

^qualis. ^qualis. 

iEther. Athens. 

Alcohol (neut.). Alcoholis.^ 

Albumen (nent.). Albuminis. 

Aluroen (neut.). Aluminis. 

Animalis. Animalis. 

Anthemis. Anthemidis. 

Antimonialis. Antimonialis. 

Arsenias. Arseniatis. 

Arsenis. Arseuitis. 

Asclepias. Asclepiadis. 

Benzoas. Benzoatis. 

Bicarbonas. Bicarbonatis. 

Bichromas. Bichromatis. 

Bisulphas. Bisulphatis. 

Bisulphis. Bisulphitis. 

' Considered mdecWiiaXAftV^ %qi\sw^ ws5iJsvwSilv^%^ 



46 



PRESCRIPTION WRITING. 



[Part 



Bitartraa. 
Boras. 
Bos. 
Calx. 

Canadensis. 
Cannabis. 
Cantharis. 
Carbo. 
Carbonas. 
Chloral (neut.). 
Chloras. 
Citras. 
Colocynthis. 
Confectio. 
Cortex. 
Digitalis. 
Dulce (neut.). 
Dulcis. 
Effervescens. 
Etnulsio. 
Erigeron. 
Fel ^neut.). 
Flexile (neut.). 
Flos. 
Fortior. 

Fortius (neut.). 
Glaciale (neut.). 
Hamamelis. 
Hirudo. 
Hydras. 
Hydrastis. 
Hydrobromas. 
Hydrochloras. 
Hypophosphia. 
Hyposulphis. 
Ins. 

Juglans. 
Lac (neut.). 
Lactophosphas. 
Lactas. 
LimoD, 



Bitartratis. 

Boratis. 

Bo vis. 

Calcis. 

Canadensis. 

Cannabis. 

Cantharidis. 

Carbonis. 

Carbonatis. 

Chloralis. 

Chloratis. 

Citratis. 

Colocynthidis. 

Confectionis. 

Corticis. 

Digitalis. 

Dulcis. 

Dulcis. 

Effervescentis. 

Emulsionis. 

Erigerontis. 

Fellis. 

Flexilis. 

Floris. 

Fortioris. 

Fortioris. 

Glacialis. 

Hamamelidis. 

Hirudinis. 

Hvdratis. 

Hydrastis. 

Hydrobromatis. 

Hydrochloratis. 

Hypophosphitis. 

H^pjosulphitis. 

Indis. 

Juglandis. 

Lactis. 

Lactophosphatis. 

Lactatis. 



11] 



WORDS USED IN WRITING. 



47 



Liquor. 

Lotio. 

Macis. 

Majalis. 

Mel (neut.). 

Mite (neut.). 

Mucilago. 

Nitras. 

Nitris. 

Nux. 

Oxalas. 

Pars. 

Pepo. 

Permanganas. 

Phosphas. 

Physostigma (neut)* 

Piper (neut.). 

Pix. 

Portense (neut.). 

Pulvis. 

Pyrophosphas. 

Radix. 

Recens. 

Rhus. 

Rumex. 

Salicylas. 

Salix. ^ 

Santoninas. 

Sapo. 

Semen (neut.). 

Semissis. 

Silicas. 

Sinapis. 

Solubile (neut.). 

Styrax. 

Subacetas. 

Subcarbonas. 

Subnitras. 

Subsulphas. 

Sulphas. 

Suiphis. 



Liquoris. 

Lotionis. 

Macidis. 

Majalis. 

Mellis. 

Mitis. 

Mucilaginis. 

Kitratis. 

Nitritis. 

Nucis. 

Oxalatis. 

Partis. 

Peponis. 

Permanganatis. 

Phosphatis. 

Physostigmatis. 

Piperis. 

Picis. 

Portensis. 

Pulveris. 

Pyrophosphatis. 

Riadicis. 

Recentis. 

Rho'is or Roris. 

Rumicis. 

Salic^latis. 

Salicis. 

Santoninatis. 

Saponis. 

Seminis. 

Semissis. 

Silicatis. 

Sinapis. 

Solubilis. 

Styracis. 

Subacetatis. 

Subcarbonatis. 

Subnitratis. 

Subsulphatis. 



48 



PRESCRIPTION WRITING. 



[Part 



Sulphocarbolas. 
Sulphur (neut.). 
Tartras. 
Tersulphas. 
Valerian as. 
Venale (neut.). 
Venalis. 
Viride (neut.). 
Viridis. 
Zingiber (neut.). 



Sulphocarbolatis. 

Sulphuris. 

Tartratis. 

Tersulphatis. 

Valerianatis. 

Venalis. 

Venalis. 

Viridis. 

Viridis. 

Zingiberis. 



LIST V. 
FOURTH DECLENSION. 

Nouns ending in us, which are declined like Fruc- 
tus (see page 22). They are exceptions to the rule 
that words ending in us are declined like Ruhus. 

Cornus. Quercus. Spiritus. 



LIST VI. 
INDECLINABLE NOUNS. 



Amyl. 

Azedarach. 

Buchu. 



Cajuputi. 

Catechu. 

Coca. 



Kino. 

Matico. 

Sassafras. 



A number of non-pharmacopoeial words, mostly of 
recent origin, which analogy does not readily assign 
to places in the lists of declinable nouns, and which 
have not yet been distinctly located by lexicogi'a- 
phers, are best treated as indeclinable. Such are the 
following : — 



Hydronaphthol. 
Paraldehyd, 
Phenol, 



Quebracho. 
Salol. 



\ 



Thymol. 
Urethan. 



ui 



WORDS USED IN WRITING. 



49 



LIST vn. 



NUMERAL ADJECTIVES. 
Cardinals. 

All indeclinable, excepting umiSy duOy and ires. 

Sexdecim, sixteen. 



(Jnus, one. 

Duo, two. 

Tres, three. 

Quatuor, four. 

Quinque, five. 

Sex, six. 

Septem, seven. 

Octo, eight. 

Novem, nine. 

Decern, ten. 

Undecira, eleven. 

Duodecim, twelve. 

Tredecim, thu^teen. 
Quatuordecim, fourteen. 

Quindecim, fifteen. 

Unus is thus declined : — 

Masculine, 



Septendecim, seventeen. 

Octodecim, eighteen. 

Novendecim, nineteen. 

Viginti, twenty. 

Viginti unus, twenty-one. 

Vi^nti duo, twenty-two. 

Trigiuta, thirty. 

Quadraginta, forty. 
Quinquaginta, fifty. 

Sexaginta, sixty. 

Septuaginta, seventy. 



Nominative 

Genitive 

Accusative 



unus 

unius 

unum 



Duo is thus declined : 



Nominative 

Genitive 

Accusative 



Masculine. 
duo 

duorum 
duos 



Octoginta, 

Nonaginta, 

Centum, 



Feminine, 
una 
unius 
unam 



Feminine. 
duae 
duarum 
duas 



eighty, 
ninety, 
a hundred. 



Tres is thus declined : — 



Jfasculine, 
Nominative tres 
Genitive trium 

Accusative tres 



« 



• • • • • • 

• • • • • • • 

• • • • •• • 

• • •• •••• 



« 



Feminine. 
tres 
trium 

• • ••• **• 



Neuter. 
unum 
unius 
unum 



Neuter, 
duo 

duorum 
duo 



Neuter. 
tria 






50 PRESCRIPTION WRITING. [Part 



Ordinals. 

Only the masculine form of each is given; but 
each has a feminine, ending in a instead of us, and a 
neuter, ending in um instead of us. The mascu- 
lines are declined like Ruhus (see page 20), the 
feminines like Rosa (seepage 19), and the neuters 
like Acidum (see page 21). 



Primus first. 

Secundus second. 

Tertius thu'd. 

Quartus . fourth. 

Quintus fifth. 

Sextus sixth. 

Septimus seventli. 

Octavus eighth. 

Nonus ninth. 

Decimus tenth. 

Undecimus eleventh. 

Duodecimus twelfth. 

Tertius decimus .... thirteenth. 

Quartus decimus .... fourteenth, 

Quintus decimus .... fifteenth. 

Sextus decimus .... sixteenth. 

Septimus decimus . . . seventeenth. 

Octavus decimus .... eighteenth. 

Nonus decimus .... nineteenth. 

Vicesimus twentieth. 

Vicesimus primus . . . twenty-first. 

Vicesimus secundus . . . twenty-second. 

Tricesimus thirtieth. 

Quadragesimus .... fortieth. 

Quinquagesimus .... fiftieth. 

Sexagesimus sixtieth. 

Septuagesimus . .... seventieth. 

Octogesimus eightieth. 

Nonagesimus ninetieth. 

Centesimna one hundredth. 



* 



ILJ 



WORDS USED IN WRITING. 



51 



LIST vni. 

VERBS. 

Adde add. 

BaUiat let (it) boU. 

Cola strain. 

Divide divide. 

Fiat let (it) be made. 

Fiant let (them) be made. 

Macera . . . . . macerate. 

Misce ...... mix. 

Recipe take. 

Repetatur .... let (it) be repeated. 

Signa mark, or label. 

Solve dissolve. 

Sufficit (it) suffices. 

Tere rub. 



LIST IX. 

CONJUNCTION, PREPOSITIONS, AND ADVERBS. 

Ad to. 

Ana « . of each. 

Cum with. 

Et and. 

lu into, or up to. 

Non not. 



Numeral Adverbs. 



Semel . 
Bis . . 
Ter . 
Quater 
Quinquies 
Sexies . 
Septies 
Octies . 
Novies . 
Decies . 



once, 
twice, 
thrice, 
four times, 
five times, 
six times, 
seven times, 
eight times, 
nine times. 



APPENDIX, 



THE METRIC SYSTEM IN PRESCRIPTIONS. 

Singe the body of this book was written, so much 
attention has been bestowed upon the metric system as 
to make it desirable to add a few words on its use in 
prescription writing. It is not intended to discuss the 
merits or disadvantages of this method of reckoning ; 
it is sufficient to know that an acquaintance with it is 
rapidly becoming an absolute necessity to every man 
who wants to read medical works intelligently. 

In the transition stage from the old system of weights 
and measures to the new, we must know both ; but the 
difficulty of translating one into the terms of the other 
is very slight. In prescription writing it is by far the 
best plan to do away with the measures of volume, and 
use only the measures of weight. This does not make 
it necessary to remember the specific gravity of each 
separate liquid preparation ; for in most cases sufficient 
accuracy is attained by reckoning all as if they were 
water, except the syrups, which are about one-third 
heavier, chloroform, which is one-half heavier, and ether, 
which is one-third lighter. Of the weights we need 
employ only the gram, which is the unit, the centigram, 
the one-hundredth part of a gram, and the milligram, 
the one-thousandth part of a gram ; which correspond 
exactly with the commonest terms in our United States 
money, namely, the dollar, tli^ \iw\\., ^^\\\. Vss^ ^se^sJa^^- 
lar, to make the nomendatox^ ^X.txx'cNxxx^l ^a^Tt«K^'«^'«^* 



64 PRESCRIPTION WRITING. 

ent iu all respects), the one-hundredth part of a dollar, 
aud mill (millidollar), the one- thousandth part of a dollar. 
A gram being a little more than fifteen grains, a grain 
or minim is about .065 of a gram, or sixty-five milli- 
grams ; a drachm or fiuidrachm is a trifle less than four (4) 
grams ; and an ounce or fluid ounce a little less than 
thirty-two (32) grams. If we drop the .005, the most 
inconvenient part of the fraction, and call .06 of a gram 
(six centigrams) a grain, we shall be sufliciently near for 
the practical purposes of ordinary medication, making 
our small error on the safe side, by giving the patient 
less than he would be likely to get by the present 
method. We generally deviate, too, in the right direc- 
tion in calling four grams a drachm, and thirty-two 
grams an ounce ; for the substances given in drachms 
and ounces are usually the vehicle, or, if not that, are 
of such a nature that so small an increase of the dose 
would make no diflerence in the effect In adminis- 
tering medicines there is, in the most favorable circum- 
stances, a certain general sphere of error which is 
inevitable. We cannot precisely apportion doses to 
the needs of the sick ; and variations like those which 
will result from the ready method of translation given 
above are no greater than occur many times a day in 
the practice of a busy physician who does not diminish 
or increase the conventional grain dose of a drug 
according as the patient is a few pounds lighter or 
heavier than the average, has a pulse a few beats less 
or more, or a nervous susceptibility a trifle below or 
above the common. 

The use of the Arabic characters in metrically writ- 
ten prescriptions is essential to ready clearness and to 
comfort, as the fractions of a gram could be represented 
by the Roman numerals only by a tedious and, to 
many, not very intelligible combination. It cannot 
with much force be asserted that the u&e of tli^i&e figures 



THE METRIC SYSTEM. 



56 



Is a mixing of tongues sach as has been objected to in 
the preceding pages; for these characters are hardly 
more arbitraiy as signs for words than are the Koman. 
For instance, quadraginta would not seem to be more 
naturally represented by XL than by 40. It is best to 
separate the whole numbers from the fractions by the 
decimal line, as we do in writing a column of dollars 
and cents. Gram, (the abbreviation for Grammarium 
and Grammaria, the Latin for gram and grams respec- 
tively) should be written with a capital initial and after 
the number indicating the quantity, so as to reduce to 
a minimum the chance of the apothecary's confounding 
it with gr. (the abbreviation for granum and grana) 
which is placed before the number. 

Example : — 

R. Strychninae Snlphatis 

Quininae Bisulphatis 2 

Acidi Phosphorici Diluti . . . . 20^ 

Synipi Prunl Virginianae .... 70.00 

Aquae Destillatae 50,00 

Misee. 



05 Gram. 

00 

00 






LANE MEDICAL LIBRARY 



Thii book tbodld be returned on or before 
the date tast stamped below. 



G37 Prescription wriiiiiK. 
1888 



NAME 



DATE DUE