In HL7 messaging, the separator characters are known as the message delimiters or special encoding characters.

| Field separator, aka pipe
^ Component separator, aka hat
& Sub-component separator
~ Field repeat separator
\ Escape character

The first two fields in the MSH segment define the separator characters to be used throughout the HL7 message. The MSH-1 field defines the field separator, and the MSH-2 field defines the other separator characters for the message in the following order: component, field repeat, escape character, and subcomponent.  Here’s an example of an MSH segment with the defined separator characters in MSH-1 and MSH-2:


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