Subscripts and Superscripts
1. Subscripts and superscripts are seldom used by transcriptionists in medical reports because they are not easily executed, even on computer keyboards. Also, on typewritten reports it may be difficult for the reader to determine whether a number is a subscript for one line or a character on the line below it.
2. When a term that would ordinarily have a subscript is written with all characters on the baseline, no spaces or hyphens are used.
A2, P2 A2, P2
V1, V6 V1, V6
3. The most common terms that would have subscripts in medical reports include the following:
blood gases PCO2, PO2
chemical symbols O2, CO2
heart sounds S1, S2, S3, S4
thyroid tests T3, T4
4. The most common terms with superscripts in medical reports are elements such as those used in radiology and radiotherapy. When a term that would ordinarily have a superscript is written with all characters on the baseline, the superscript number that ordinarily precedes the element symbol now follows the symbol, and a space (not a hyphen) is used to separate the letters from the numerals.
technetium 99mTc sulfur colloid
technetium Tc 99m sulfur colloid
iodohippurate sodium 131I
iodohippurate sodium I 131
sodium iodide 125I
sodium iodide I 125
gallium citrate 67Ga
gallium citrate Ga 67
5. A superscript is used occasionally in laboratory data, e.g., when values are given to a certain power. These numbers should be transcribed as dictated.
Dictated: The WBC count was ten to the fifth power.
Transcribed: The WBC count was 105.
Dictated: Red blood cells were five times ten to the sixth power.
Transcribed: Red blood cells were 5 x 106.