4.2 Activity and Nutrition Orders

Activity and nutrition orders are often seen in a hospital setting and even in some clinics. Activity orders describe what a patient can do to mobilize within the hospital, and nutrition orders focus on what, or whether or not, a patient can eat or drink. Certain units, such as those that perform surgery, often make changes to patients’ nutrition and activity orders. If a patient is waiting for surgery or has just had surgery, their ability to eat or mobilize will be affected. The most common activity and nutrition orders are shown below, and examples of their use are provided.

Activity Orders

Table 4.1. Activity Orders 

AAT activity as tolerated
ad lib freely as desired
ADL activities of daily living
BR bedrest
BRP bathroom privileges
PWB partial weight-bearing


Key Concept

Although some of the abbreviations and their meanings above are clear, others are more complicated. For example, activities of daily living (ADL) are anything we complete on a daily basis and include tasks such as brushing teeth, showering, changing clothes, and brushing one’s hair. Freely as desired (Ad lib) means that the patient can get up and out of bed whenever they so choose, and activity as tolerated (AAT) means that the patient can mobilize whenever they feel comfortable and stop when the activity becomes painful or uncomfortable.

Examples of activity orders:

  1. BR with BRP
  2. Pt to progress to AAT x 2 days post-op

Explanation of the activity orders:

  1. Bedrest with bathroom privileges (patient is to stay in bed except to use the bathroom).
  2. Patient to progress to activity as tolerated two days after surgery.

Nutrition Orders

 Table 4.2. Nutrition Orders

CDA Canadian Diabetes Association
Cl. flds clear fluids
DAT diet as tolerated
FDA Food and Drug Administration
H2O water
NPO nothing by mouth
WDW when drinking well


Key Concepts

Often abbreviations in nutrition orders are used progressively. For example, if a patient has had surgery, they may be NPO (nothing by mouth) immediately following surgery, then progress to Cl. flds (clear fluids). Afterwards, they may be assessed and ordered WDW (when drinking well), which means they are tolerating fluids, and progress to DAT (diet as tolerated). At that point, they can eat and drink as much as they can tolerate without becoming uncomfortable or experiencing nausea.

 Examples of nutrition orders:

  1. For possible surgery in am, NPO after midnight
  2. Cl. flds today then progress to DAT WDW

Explanation of the nutrition orders:

  1. For possible surgery in morning, nothing by mouth after midnight.
  2. Clear fluids today, then progress to diet as tolerated when drinking well.





Unless otherwise indicated, material on this page has been adapted from the following resource:

Carter, K., & Rutherford, M. (2020). Building a medical terminology foundation. eCampusOntario. https://ecampusontario.pressbooks.pub/medicalterminology/ licensed under CC BY 4.0



Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

The Language of Medical Terminology Copyright © 2022 by Lisa Sturdy and Susanne Erickson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book