Terms to watch out for

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data, datum

Data is the plural of datum. Datum is rarely used, and data should always be treated as a plural:

The data are     not     The data is


different from, different than, different to

These 3 expressions have the same meaning, but different from is the most common in Australian, British and American English. Different than is mainly seen in American English, and different to in British English. Different than and different to are often regarded as incorrect because things differ from each other (they don’t differ to each other or differ than each other). However, all 3 expressions have been used for centuries. Although all are acceptable, different from is regarded as less controversial and more correct.

dose, dosage, dosage form, dosage regimen

dose: the amount of substance administered at one time

The patient was given a dose of 500 mg of paracetamol.

dosage: the amount and rate of administration of a substance

The dosage was changed to 500 mg every 4 hours.

dosage form: the way in which a therapeutic agent is administered (eg a tablet, a capsule, a spray); also referred to as the formulation (especially in agriculture)

dosage regimen: the schedule of doses per unit of of time (eg the number and time of doses)

drug, medication, medicine

drug: a chemical substance that has a known effect in humans or animals. This term was previously used interchangeably with medicine; however, since drug is often associated with illicit substances, medicine is now the preferred term for many organisations (including the Therapeutic Goods Administration – the Australian Government agency responsible for the regulation of pharmaceuticals)

medication (noun): often used interchangeably with medicine (eg he took his medication). This term is favoured by health care professionals, particularly to distinguish it from the practice of medicine. Also the act of prescribing or administering a medicine (to medicate)

medicine: a pharmaceutical substance that has a specific effect in humans or animals, and is used to cure, alter or treat a disease or condition. Also, the practice of healing (eg they studied medicine)

due to

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