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Medical Terminology

  • Abdomen
    The part of the body containing the digestive organs; the belly.
  • Abnormal electrical rhythm
    Also called “arrhythmia” - when the electrical signals that coordinate the heart's beats don't work properly. The faulty signaling causes the heart to beat too fast (tachycardia), too slow (bradycardia) or irregularly. Source: Mayo Clinic
  • Abortion
    A process to end a pregnancy, using medicine and/or surgery. Source: Medline Plus
  • Abortion services
    Services to assist to end a pregnancy which can be done either through medication or a procedure to remove the pregnancy from the uterus.
  • Admission/Admit
    The act or process of allowing someone to enter a hospital for a period typically 24hrs or longer to receive medical care. Source: Cambridge Dictionary
  • Adoption
    A process whereby a person assumes the parenting of another, usually a child, from that person's biological or legal parent or parents. Legal adoptions permanently transfer all rights and responsibilities, along with filiation, from the biological parents to the adoptive parents.
  • Aftercare
    The care and treatment of a person after an operation, delivery, or convalescence from an illness. Source: Medical Dictionary
  • Agender
    Denoting or relating to a person who does not identify as having a gender.
  • Aggressive interventions
    Usually refers to things like intensive care unit [ICU] admission, ventilator, cardiac catheterization, pulmonary artery monitor, and dialysis, but can also refer to repeated hospitalization or major surgery when a person is already near the ed of their life.
  • Ambient temperature
    The temperature that exists in a given environment.
  • Anti-choking training
    Training, inclusive of abdominal thrusts, used to prevent choking often provided as part of first aid.
  • Anxiety
    A feeling of worry and fear along with muscle tension. Anxiety may be considered normal in some instances such as public speaking or before making important decisions. Anxiety may become a disorder when it prevents one’s ability to function normally. Source:
  • Aromantic
    Lack of romantic attraction to others; low or absent desire for romantic activity.
  • Aromanticism
    Defined as having little or no romantic feeling towards others: experiencing little or no romantic desire or attraction.
  • Arterial line
    An arterial line is a thin, flexible tube that is placed into an artery, commonly in the wrist or the groin. It helps your doctors and nurses check your blood pressure and take blood samples. It is used in operating rooms and intensive care units (ICUs). You may hear it called an "art-line" or "A-line." Source: My Health
  • Artificial nutrition
    Refers to nutrient supplements other than food (whole or blended) that are given to a person through a tube that goes into their stomach or intestines, but can also refer to nutrients that are given directly into the blood stream.
  • Asexual
    Lack of sexual attraction to others, or low or absent interest in or desire for sexual activity. It may be considered a sexual orientation or the lack thereof. It may also be categorized more widely, to include a broad spectrum of asexual sub-identities.
  • Asexuality
    The lack of sexual attraction to others, or low or absent interest in or desire for sexual activity. It may also be categorized more widely to include a broad spectrum of asexual sub-identities. Asexuality is distinct from abstention from sexual activity and from celibacy.
  • Aspiration
    When something enters your airway or lungs by accident. It may be food, liquid, or some other material. Source: Cedars Sinai
  • Assessments
    Gathering information concerning a hospitalized person’s individual physiological, psychological, sociological, and spiritual needs. It is the first step in the successful evaluation of a person requiring health care. Source: NCBI
  • Autopsy
    A scientific examination of a person’s remains to document the state of all the body’s organs after death; often performed to help determine the cause of death or any contributing factors; requires opening all of the body’s cavities to exam the internal organs.
  • Benzodiazepines
    Class of depressant drugs prescribed to treat conditions such as anxiety disorders, insomnia, and seizures, can also be used for sedation in the ICU, and as part of anesthesia for surgery. Source
  • Birth defect
    An abnormal body structure or function that develops before a baby is born. A birth defect is also called a Congenital Disorder or Congenital Abnormality. Source
  • Bisexual
    Is a romantic or sexual attraction or behavior toward both males and females, to more than one gender, or to both people of the same gender and different genders.
  • Bisexuality
    A pattern of attraction toward both males and females, or to more than one sex or gender. A bisexual identity does not necessarily equate to equal sexual attraction to both sexes; commonly, people who have a distinct but not exclusive sexual preference for one sex over the other also identify themselves as bisexual.
  • Bladder
    Located in the lower abdomen, the bladder is a hollow organ, much like a balloon, that stores urine, until you’re able to go to the bathroom. Source
  • Blood clot
    A semi-solid mass of blood cells and other substances that form in your blood vessels. Blood clots protect you from bleeding too much if you’re injured or have surgery. However, you may develop blood clots for other reasons, such as having certain medical conditions. When that happens, blood clots may cause symptoms and can be life-threatening. Source
  • Blood draw
    Removal of a small sample of blood (typically less than a quarter of a cup) in order to test the levels of different components in the blood necessary to keep you healthy; sometimes this is done through an existing IV, sometimes it requires a separate needle to access your vein to get the sample.
  • Blood pressure
    The fluid pressure generated by the heart squeezing blood into your arteries, making blood flow continuously in a forward direction through the arteries in your body, thereby delivering oxygen and nutrients to your organs. It is normal for your blood pressure to vary throughout the day and with activity.
  • Blood products
    Transfusable substances derived from human blood such as whole blood, red blood cells, platelets, plasma and cryoprecipitate. Source
  • Blood sample
    A small amount of blood taken from a person for testing.
  • Blood transfusion
    Giving blood or blood products to a person through an IV catheter, typically to replace cells or substances that are missing or inadequate in the person receiving the transfusion.
  • Breastfeeding
    The process of feeding a mother's breast milk to her infant, either directly from the breast or by expressing (pumping out) the milk from the breast and bottle-feeding it to the infant.
  • Breathing tube
    The plastic tube used for intubation; can also refer to a tracheostomy; the piece of tubing that connects a person’s respiratory system to a mechanical ventilator.
  • Central line
    Also a central venous catheter; a catheter placed into a large vein as a form of venous access. Placement of larger catheters in more centrally located veins is often needed in critically ill people, or in those requiring prolonged treatment. These catheters are commonly placed in veins in the neck (internal jugular vein), chest (subclavian vein or axillary vein), groin (femoral vein), or through veins in the arms (also known as a PICC line, or peripherally inserted central catheters). Source
  • Chaplain services
    services performed by a certified clergy member who provides spiritual care for individuals in a non-religious organization, rather than a church congregation. Chaplains can work in healthcare, hospice, or government facilities. Chaplains are spiritual and pastoral counselors who work with people and their families to access spiritual strength and resources. Chaplains offer care and support when people and their families search for meaning in the midst of illness and hospitalization.
  • Child abuse resources
    Resources to assist with any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation"; or "An act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm." This definition of child abuse and neglect refers to parents and other caregivers. A "child" under this definition means a person who is younger than age 18 or who is not an emancipated minor. Federal law has created guidance. State or territory laws have further delineation.
  • Childbirth classes
    Designed to help women access accurate and up to date information about childbirth and make informed decisions about their care. Exposure to evidence-based information about maternity care practices should assist women to make informed decisions that are based on that evidence. Their purpose is to reduce fear of the unknown and let couples focus on the joy of the birth experience. Though you can't 'control' birth, taking classes will help you feel prepared and supported to make your treasured memories of the birth experience.
  • Chronic disease
    Conditions that last 1 year or more and require ongoing medical attention or limit activities of daily living or both. Source
  • Chronic illness
    A chronic illness is a long-term health condition that may not have a cure. Examples of chronic illnesses are: Alzheimer disease and dementia, arthritis, asthma, cancer, COPD, Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis, diabetes, endometriosis, epilepsy, fibromyalgia, heart disease, high blood pressure (hypertension), HIV/AIDS, migraine, mood disorders (bipolar, cyclothymic, and depression), multiple sclerosis, narcolepsy, Parkinson disease. Source
  • Circumcision
    The surgical removal of the skin covering the tip of the penis; this is fairly common for newborn boys in certain parts of the world, including the United States; for some families, circumcision is a religious ritual, but can also be a matter of family tradition, personal hygiene or preventive health care. Source
  • Claustrophobia
    An extreme fear of enclosed spaces that prevents one’s ability to function or perform daily activities. Source
  • Clergy
    The group of religious officials (as priests, ministers, or rabbis) specially prepared and authorized to conduct religious services.
  • Clinical ethicist
    Also called a medical ethicist. A consultant who assesses the use of ethics in health care settings, such as hospitals and private medical practices. Their role is often to aid in understanding and communication between health care providers and people seeking care in the health care system. Source
  • Cognitive and behavioral differences
    Cognitive refers to intellect: people with cognitive differences often take longer to complete academic tasks than people with typical cognitive function and can have difficulty focusing. Behavioral refers to how a person acts, due to their emotions; in this case differences refers to people whose actions may be harmful to themselves or people around them without support or assistance.
  • Colostomy
    A surgical operation in which a piece of the colon (large intestine) is diverted to an artificial opening in the abdominal wall so as to bypass a damaged part of the colon and allow solid waste to leave the body. Source
  • Common gender
    It denotes either a male or female sex.
  • Common law
    Also known as case law, is a body of unwritten laws based on legal precedents established by the courts. Here it refers to two people who are seen as married by their state or jurisdiction without having been formally married to each other.
  • Community decision-making
    Based in the basic belief and value that every community has strengths, and every community has problems and concerns. The people within each community have the ability to solve their own problems and achieve their own goals.
  • Complication
    An unfavorable result of a disease, health condition, or treatment that generally involves a worsening of the disease or the development of new signs, symptoms, or negative changes that may become widespread throughout the body and affect additional organ systems. Source
  • Cord blood
    The blood from the baby that is left in the umbilical cord and placenta after birth; it contains special cells called stem cells that can be used to treat some types of diseases. Source
  • CPR
    Cardiopulmonary resuscitation; using a carefully timed combination of rescue breathing and compressing the chest to support oxygen and blood flow in a person whose heart has stopped.
  • Critical illness
    A term coined by health insurers to describe a handful of the most common health situations that result in prolonged hospitalization or ICU care. “Critical-illness plans often cover diseases like cancer, organ transplant, heart attack, stroke, renal failure, and paralysis, among others. There is no coverage if you're diagnosed with a disease that isn't on the specific list for your plan, and the list of covered illnesses varies from one plan to another.” Source
  • Cultural traditions
    Defined as the practices, beliefs, customs, and habits that are passed down from generation to generation within a particular society. These are practices of a specific group for an extended time that become the common habits and identity of these people.
  • Culture
    An umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior, institutions, and norms found in human societies, as well as the knowledge, beliefs, arts, laws, customs, capabilities, and habits of the individuals in these groups. Culture is often originated from or attributed to a specific region or location. It can include the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group. also: the characteristic features of everyday existence (such as diversions or a way of life) shared by people in a place or time.
  • Death Doula
    Also End-of-Life Doula; a person who provides companionship, comfort, and guidance to those facing a terminal illness or death, and offers resources to help the dying person, along with their family and loved ones, make informed decisions in a supportive environment. Source
  • Decision-maker
    The person or group of individuals who is responsible for making strategically important decisions based on a number of variables, including time constraints, resources available, the amount and type of information available and the number of stakeholders involved.
  • Defibrillation
    Administering a controlled electric shock to the chest in order to allow restoration of the normal heart rhythm. Source
  • Depression
    A medical illness that causes feelings of sadness, loss of interest in enjoyable activities, and can decrease one’s ability to function at work and at home. Source
  • Diabetes
    A condition that occurs when glucose (blood sugar) rises too high. Diabetes results from the body not making enough insulin or being unable to use insulin properly. Over a long period of time untreated diabetes leads to kidney disease, heart disease, blindness, and death. Source
  • Dialysis
    This is a general term referring to several processes of balancing the body’s normal chemistry and removing toxins from the blood. Usually the kidneys do this job, but when they stop working, either temporarily or permanently, there are devices that can clean the blood and balance the body’s chemistry. Hemodialysis is the process of removing blood from the body and running it through a machine that works like a kidney (cleans/balances) and then returns the blood back into the body through IV tubes. Peritoneal dialysis is a process where the abdomen is filled with fluid through a surgically implanted tube. The fluid works slowly to absorb toxins and balance the body’s chemistry, and after a period of time (6 to 8 hours) is drained back out of the abdomen. Any of these processes must be repeated every one to two days until either a person’s kidneys start working again or a new kidney is surgically implanted. Without working kidneys or dialysis toxins build up, usually resulting in death within two weeks.
  • Diarrhea
    When your stools are loose and watery. You may also need to go to the bathroom more often. Short-term (acute) diarrhea lasts 1 or 2 days. Long-term (chronic) diarrhea lasts several weeks. Source
  • Discharged
    Describes the point at which inpatient hospital care ends, with ongoing care transferred to other primary, community or home environments. Generally, it is not an end point, but rather one of multiple transitions within a person’s care journey. Source
  • Disease
    A disorder of structure or function in a human, animal, or plant, especially one that has a known cause and a distinctive group of symptoms, signs, or anatomical changes. Source
  • Doula
    A person trained to provide physical, emotional, and informational support to pregnant people throughout their pregnancy. Doulas adhere to DONA International’s Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics to ensure a safe and healthy pregnancy, birth, and postpartum experience. Source
  • ECMO
    Extra-corporeal Membrane Oxygenation; a machine or series of machines that removes blood from a person’s body through large tubes entering and exiting the body, that removes carbon dioxide, and adds oxygen, then returns the blood to the person. This process is only used when a person’s heart and/or lungs are unable to do the normal work of breathing and/or pumping blood to get oxygen to all of your organs and tissue, typically when a person is near death.
  • End of life
    The period when body systems shut down and death is imminent—typically lasts from a matter of days to a couple of weeks. Source
  • End-of-life (Death) Doula (EOLDs) Services
    Provide non-medical, practical, emotional, spiritual, and physical care, and support to those living with serious illness, their family and caregivers, beginning before hospice and lasting throughout the dying time and afterwards.
  • End-stage
    The lowest level of function of a vital organ system (e.g., end-stage liver disease or end-stage renal disease) that is irreversible, and will cause death if there isn’t an aggressive intervention.
  • Episiotomy
    A small cut made by an obstetrician (doctor who specializes in the delivery of babies) in the lower part of the vagina to allow a baby to be born more easily. Recent research suggests episiotomies may do more harm than good and have become less common. Source
  • Ethics consultation
    A service that supports informed, deliberative decision making on the part of people receiving care, families, physicians, and the health care team. By helping to clarify ethical issues and values, facilitating discussion, and providing expertise and educational resources, ethics consultants promote respect for the values, needs, and interests of all participants, especially when there is disagreement or uncertainty about treatment decisions. Source
  • Ethnicity
    The quality or fact of belonging to a population group or subgroup made up of people who share a common cultural background or descent.
  • Extracorporeal life support (ECLS)
    A treatment that uses man-made heart and lung machines to support the body when a person's own organs are too sick to do the job. Source
  • Extreme medical illness
    Also “severe medical condition “- To differentiate from a condition which requires surgery to correct; refers to any condition which will result in one or more organs shutting down, or death, if not treated quickly with medicines, typically inside a hospital or intensive care unit.
  • Family traditions
    An activity or pattern of behavior that reflects a family's values, interests, or beliefs.
  • Feeding tube
    A small plastic tube used to deliver nutrients into a person’s digestive system; can be a long-lasting short tube that passes through the skin of the abdomen into the stomach or intestines, or a long tube that goes through the mouth or nose into the stomach or intestines.
  • Feminine gender
    It is used to denote the female subtype.
  • Fluid
    Sexual fluidity is one or more changes in sexuality or sexual identity. Sexual orientation is stable and unchanging for the vast majority of people, but some research indicates that some people may experience change in their sexual orientation, and this is slightly more likely for women than for men.
  • Forceps assisted delivery
    A form of assisted vaginal delivery that involves a provider using forceps (which look like tongs) to grasp a baby’s head and pull while the mother pushes. Forceps may also be used to reposition a baby’s head to assist in the delivery process. Source
  • Foster care
    Is a system in which a minor has been placed into a ward, group home, or private home of a state-certified caregiver, referred to as a "foster parent", or with a family member approved by the state. The placement of a "foster child" is normally arranged through the government or a social service agency.
  • Full code
    Means that if a person’s heart stopped beating and/or they stopped breathing, all resuscitation procedures will be provided to keep them alive. Source
  • Futile
    Incapable of producing any useful result; pointless. Source
  • Futility of Intervention
    Also “medical futility” - a particular intervention at a particular time, for a specific person that is unlikely to produce any significant benefit for that person.
  • Gay
    Sexually or romantically attracted to people of one's own sex (used especially of a man).
  • Gender
    Includes the social, psychological, cultural and behavioral aspects of being a man, woman, or other gender identity. Depending on the context, this may include sex-based social structures and gender expression.
  • Gender expression
    Typically reflects a person's gender identity(their internal sense of their own gender), but this is not always the case. Gender expression is separate and independent both from sexual orientation and sex assigned at birth. Gender expression is how a person publicly presents their gender. This can include behavior and outward appearance such as dress, hair, make-up, body language and voice. A person's chosen name and pronoun are also common ways of expressing gender.
  • Gender identity
    Is the personal sense of one's own gender. Gender identity can correlate with a person's assigned sex or can differ from it. In most individuals, the various biological determinants of sex are congruent, and consistent with the individual's gender identity.
  • Genderfluid
    Is a non-fixed gender identity that shifts over time or depending on the situation. These fluctuations can occur at the level of gender identity or gender expression.
  • Genderqueer
    An umbrella term for gender identities that are not solely male or female; consider also “non-binary.”
  • General anesthesia
    Medicine given before and during surgery through a breathing mask or IV catheter that causes a person to go into a sleep-like state and prevents awareness or memory, or the feeling of pain. Source
  • GI
    Gastrointestinal; of or relating to the digestive system.
  • Groin
    The area between the abdomen and the thigh on either side of the body. Source
  • Group decision-making (also known as collaborative decision-making or collective decision-making)
    When a group of individuals collectively make a choice from the alternatives before them. The decision is then no longer attributable to any single individual who is a member of the group.
  • Gut
    Part of the digestive tract and especially the intestine or stomach. Source
  • Heart
    The organ in the chest the pumps blood through the lungs to release carbon dioxide and pick up oxygen, then pumps the blood to all the organs of the body.
  • Heterosexual
    A person who is sexually or romantically attracted exclusively to people of a different sex.
  • Heterosexuality
    A pattern of attraction to persons of the opposite sex. The term straight is commonly used to refer to heterosexuals. Heterosexuals are by far the largest sexual identity group.
  • High blood pressure
    A blood pressure reading above 130/80 millimeters of mercury (mm HG). A millimeter of mercury is measurement of pressure. High blood pressure is also known as Hypertension (HTN) and means that the heart is working harder to pump blood than it should. Source
  • Homosexual
    A person who is sexually or romantically attracted to people of their own sex.
  • Homosexuality
    A pattern of attraction to other persons of the same sex. The term lesbian is commonly used to refer to homosexual women, and the term gay is commonly used to refer to homosexual men, although gay is sometimes used to refer to women as well.
  • Hospice
    Care focused on the comfort and quality of life of a person with a serious illness who is approaching the end of life. Source
  • ICU
    Intensive Care Unit – hospital ward with specially trained doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and others, who take care of people with critical illness.
  • Identity
    The qualities, beliefs, personality traits, appearance, and/or expressions that characterize a person or group. Identity emerges during childhood as children start to comprehend their self-concept, and it remains a consistent aspect throughout different stages of life.
  • Incapacitated
    A lack of physical or mental/cognitive ability that results in a person's inability to manage their own personal care, property, or finances. Source
  • Infection
    When viruses, bacteria, or other microbes enter your body and begin to multiply. Disease, which typically happens in a small number of infected people, occurs when the cells in your body are damaged as a result of this process, and signs and symptoms of an illness appear. Source
  • Inpatient
    A person who stays in a hospital while under treatment. Source
  • Inpatient hospice
    A place for people in their last phase of life, when treatment in a hospital is not necessary and care at home or in a nursing home is not possible. The central aims of this service are the relief of suffering and achieving the best possible quality of life until death, as well as bereavement support for your family. Source
  • Inpatient rehabilitation
    Intensive therapy program, physician supervision, and coordinated care from your doctors and therapists, including physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech-language pathology delivered in a facility following serious illness or injury. Source
  • Institutional limits/constraints
    Institutions are the humanly devised constraints that structure political, economic, and social interaction. They consist of both informal constraints (sanctions, taboos, customs, traditions, and codes of conduct), and formal rules (constitutions, laws, property rights).
  • Interconnectedness
    The state of being connected with each other.
  • Intersex
    Condition in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male. Source
  • Interventions
    Any change from your normal behavior that causes a change in your state of health; this can be something you change for yourself, or it can be something someone else does to you or for you.
  • Intestines
    The lower part of the digestive system, from the end of the stomach to the anus. Source
  • Intimacy
    Close familiarity or friendship; closeness. Intimacy can refer to a level of closeness where you feel validated and safe. In relationships, four types of intimacy are key: emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual.
  • Intimate partner violence
    Physical, sexual, or psychological abuse of a person by their partner or spouse.It can refer to both current and former spouses and dating partners. IPV can vary in how often it happens and how severe it is. It is one of the most common forms of violence against women and includes physical, sexual, and emotional abuse and controlling behaviors by an intimate partner.
  • Intravenous line (IV)
    A small plastic tube (about one inch long and as thin as a piece of uncooked spaghetti) that passes through the skin and into a vein, typically used to deliver fluids, nutrients and medications into the blood stream, or to remove small amounts of blood for examination and testing.
  • Intubation
    Placing a plastic tube through the mouth (or sometimes the nose), past the vocal cords and into the wind-pipe; this process is typically required as part of mechanical ventilation, wither when a person has surgery or when they are unable to breath enough on their own.
  • Kidneys
    Organs in the body that filter certain toxins from the blood, and keep the body’s electrolytes and water balanced; they are vital organs, meaning the body cannot live without them for more than a short period of time.
  • Labor and delivery
    A hospital department dedicated to the care of people who are completing a pregnancy, with specialized rooms, beds, nurses and doctors focused on the care of pregnant people and their newborn babies.
  • Labor induction
    Using medicines or other methods (such as rupturing the amniotic sac or “breaking your water”) to speed up the process of childbirth. Source
  • Laceration
    A deep cut or tear in skin or flesh. Source
  • Lactation
    Production of milk inside the breast.
  • Lactation support services
    Includes any counseling or behavioral interventions to improve breastfeeding outcomes, such as helping with a lactation crisis or working with other health care providers. The primary focus of support is counseling, encouragement, and managing lactation crises; education is a secondary purpose.
  • Left ventricular assist device (LVAD)
    A battery-operated, mechanical pump, which then helps the left ventricle (main pumping chamber of the heart) pump blood to the rest of the body; used for people who have reached end-stage heart failure, either as a tool to help until they can get a heart transplant, or as an extreme effort to support heart function in the hopes of improved function over time. Source
  • Legal partnership
    A partnership isa legal arrangement that allows two or more people to share responsibility for a business.
  • Lesbian
    Denoting or relating to women who are sexually or romantically attracted exclusively to other women, or to sexual attraction or activity between women.
  • Low blood count
    Also referred to as “anemia” – the state of being where not enough red blood cells are in the body, which can limit your ability to get enough oxygen to all of your organs, including your heart and your brain.
  • Lumbar puncture
    A test used to diagnose certain health conditions. It's performed in your lower back: a needle is inserted into the space between two lumbar bones (vertebrae) to remove a sample of fluid from around your spinal cord, called cerebrospinal fluid or CSF. Source
  • Māhū
    In Native Hawaiian and Tahitian cultures are third gender people with traditional spiritual and social roles within the culture, similar to Tongan fakaleiti and Samoan fa'afafine. Historically the term Māhū referred to people assigned male at birth (AMAB), but in modern usage Māhū can refer to a variety of genders and sexual orientations Source
  • Masculine gender
    It is used to denote a male subtype.
  • Meaningful medical improvement
    A positive change in a person’s health, typically as a result of treatment by a health care team, that leaves them more functional and/or independent than the person was before the treatment.
  • Mechanical ventilation
    Mechanical ventilation is a type of therapy that helps you breathe or breathes for you when you can’t breathe on your own. You might be on a ventilator during surgery or if your lungs aren’t working properly. Mechanical ventilation keeps your airways open, delivers oxygen and removes carbon dioxide. Source
  • Medical intervention
    Any treatment (like a medicine or a therapy) prescribed by a licensed health care provider, like a doctor or a nurse practitioner, or the use of any medication that is overseen by a pharmacist inside or outside a hospital setting.
  • Mental capacity
    Describes a person's ability to a make a decision. In a medical context, capacity refers to the ability to utilize information about an illness and proposed treatment options to make a choice that is congruent with one's own values and preferences. Capacity is defined around a specific medical decision; individuals may have capacity in one clinical context but not in another and vice versa. It is the ability for one to make his/her own decisions by being able to understand all the information needed to make that decision, use or think about that information, remember that information, and communicate the decision to someone else. The capacity to make one's own decisions is fundamental to the ethical principle of respect for autonomy and is a key component of informed consent to medical treatment. Determining whether an individual has adequate capacity to make decisions is therefore an inherent aspect of all conversations between a person and their health care provider. The main determinant of capacity is the ability to think clearly and rationally, and any condition or treatment that affects this may potentially impair decision-making capacity. In the presence of cognitive impairment from any cause, determining whether someone has adequate capacity is critical to striking the proper balance between respecting their autonomy and acting in a person’s best interest. A skillful capacity assessment can also help determine the severity of a person’s cognitive impairments and improve the effectiveness of conversations with people and their families.
  • Midwife
    A licensed medical provider trained in obstetric and gynecological healthcare. Midwives provide examinations, prescriptions, and labor and delivery care.
  • Mutual partnership
    Each partner takes a proactive interest in the other company, working together to bring about their shared success.
  • Muxe
    (In Mexico, especially Oaxaca) a person who was registered as male at birth but who identifies as female or as neither male nor female.
  • Natural death
    Natural death is one that occurs due to an internal factor that causes the body to shut down, such as cancer, heart disease or diabetes. Source
  • Neuter gender
    It is used to denote nonliving and lifeless things.
  • Non-binary
    An umbrella term for gender identities that are not solely male or female.
  • Nursing facility
    Institutions certified by a state to offer 24-hour medical and skilled nursing care, rehabilitation, or health-related services to individuals who do not require hospital care. Nursing facility services are mandatory benefits that must be covered by all state Medicaid programs. Nursing facility services are the second-largest category of Medicaid spending (after hospital services), and Medicaid is the primary payer for nursing facility care in the country. States have broad flexibility to determine payments to nursing facilities. Federal rules do not prescribe how nursing facilities should be paid or how much they should be paid, but require that Medicaid payment policies should promote efficiency, economy, quality, access, and safeguard against unnecessary utilization.
  • One Strong Mama Pregnancy Prep Program
    Program that provides exercises and stretches throughout pregnancy and postpartum. These are exercises to work the ligaments, fascia, and muscles that can impact the pelvis in labor and birth.
  • Opioid
    Substances that are chemically similar to opium that act inside the body to produce morphine-like effects. Medically they are primarily used for pain relief; particularly in acute or severe pain circumstances, including for anesthesia. Some examples are morphine, oxycodone, and fentanyl.
  • Oral hygiene therapy
    The process of assisting a person in a hospital to keep their mouth as clean as possible, to reduce the risk of infection or complication from bacteria that build up in the mouth.
  • Organ failure
    Organ failure is when one (or several) of your vital organs stops functioning. It can be a gradual (chronic) or sudden (acute) process. Your vital organs are the ones you can't live without. Source
  • Organ transplantation
    A surgical procedure in which an organ/s, tissue or group of cells are removed from one person (the donor) and transplanted into another person (the recipient), or moved from one site to another in the same person. Many different types of organs, tissue, and cells can be transplanted. Source
  • Outpatient
    A person who receives medical treatment without being admitted to a hospital. Source
  • Outpatient hospice
    Medical treatment, for people who are expected to live six months or less, to keep you as comfortable as possible while you’re still able to live at home with your family. A doctor decides if you qualify for this care service and how often you need treatment. Source
  • Pain management
    A plan to reduce or relieve pain. Pain management plans may include medications, injections, physical therapy, and exercise. Source
  • Pain scale
    Commonly used tools help determine the severity, type, and duration of a person’s pain, and help to make an accurate diagnosis, determine a treatment plan, and evaluate the effectiveness of treatment. Source
  • Palliative care
    Specialized medical care for people living with a serious illness, meant to enhance a person's current care by focusing on quality of life for them and their family. Source
  • Pansexual
    Pansexuality is sexual, romantic, or emotional attraction towards people of all genders, or regardless of their sex or gender identity. Pansexual people might refer to themselves as gender-blind, asserting that gender and sex are not determining factors in their romantic or sexual attraction to others.
  • Pansexuality
    Attraction towards people regardless of their sex or gender identity. Pansexual people may refer to themselves as gender-blind, asserting that gender and sex are not determining factors in their romantic or sexual attraction to others. Pansexuality is sometimes considered a type of bisexuality.
  • Paracentesis
    A needle or small tube is inserted into the abdominal cavity on the outside of the digestive tract and fluid is removed to diagnose or treat a problem, and evaluate for cancer or infection. Source
  • Patient advocate
    A person to help you navigate the healthcare system. They ask questions, write down information, and speak up for you. They help you get the care and resources you need. Hospital patient advocates can help you understand your bill, apply for financial assistance, and access medical records. Source
  • Patient and family relations
    Non-medical liaisons who advocate open communication among people receiving care, their families and the entire health care team. They help people and families in a variety of ways, including answering questions or requests, explaining hospital policies, and communicating and resolving hospital-related concerns. Source
  • Percutaneous nephrostomy tube
    A small, soft plastic tube that drains urine from the kidney. The tube starts at your kidney and comes out the side of your lower back. You may need this tube placed if you have a blockage that prevents urine from draining out of the kidney. The tube relieves pressure from urine that has backed up into the kidney, which can cause pain or damage to the kidney if it is not relieved. Source
  • Pericardiocentesis
    A needle or small tube is inserted into the space surrounding the heart and fluid is removed to diagnose or treat a problem, and evaluate for infection or other causes of fluid buildup.
  • Persistent/Permanent Vegetative state
    Also called “unresponsive wakefulness syndrome,” a disorder of consciousness following a brain injury, from trauma, stroke, infection, or other injury, where a person can appear to be awake, but is completely unable to interact with their environment.
  • Personal dignity
    The right of a person to be valued and respected for their own sake, and to be treated ethically. It is of significance in morality, ethics, law and politics as an extension of the Enlightenment-era concepts of inherent, inalienable rights.
  • Personal temperature
    Whatever temperature feels comfortable to you in a given environment; refers to whether a person prefers to be in a cool place, a warm place, or a range of comfortable temperatures.
  • Personal values
    Your central beliefs and the tenets that guide your actions.
  • Placenta (afterbirth)
    The structure that provides oxygen and nutrients to a growing baby. It also removes waste products from the baby's blood. The placenta attaches to the wall of the uterus, and the baby's umbilical cord arises from it. Source
  • Polysexuality
    Encompassing or characterized by many different kinds of sexuality"; sexual attraction to many, but not all, genders.   Those who use the term may be doing so as a replacement for the term bisexual. Major monotheistic religions generally prohibit polysexual activity, but some religions incorporate it into their practices. It is also considered to be another word for bisexuality however unlike bisexuals, polysexuals aren't necessarily attracted to people of the same gender.
  • Port
    A surgically implanted device, usually in the upper chest by the collarbone, that allows for repeated administration of medications, fluids, or nutrition over a long period of time with a lower risk of infection, and less pain; commonly used in people who are being treated with chemotherapy.
  • Post-ICU recovery care service
    Services that address post-intensive care syndrome, or PICS. (PICS is made up of health problems that remain after critical illness has resolved. They are often present when someone is in the ICU and may persist after the person returns home. These problems can involve the person’s body, thoughts, feelings, or mind and may affect the family. Source
  • Post-surgical pain management
    A plan to reduce or relive pain caused by a surgical procedure. This may include discomfort in the back and neck due to laying on the operating table or pain directly related to an incision site. Treatments for post-surgical pain may include medications and other approaches such as using heat, ice, guided imagery, and relaxation. Source
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
    Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a real disorder that develops when a person has experienced or witnessed a scary, shocking, terrifying, or dangerous event. These stressful or traumatic events usually involve a situation where someone’s life has been threatened or severe injury has occurred. Symptoms may include: Flashbacks, or feeling like the event is happening again, trouble sleeping or nightmares, feeling alone or detached from others, losing interest in activities, having angry outbursts or other extreme reactions, feeling worried, guilty, or sad, frightening thoughts, having trouble concentrating, having physical pain like headaches or stomach aches, avoidance of memories, thoughts, or feelings about what closely associated with traumatic events, problems remembering, negative beliefs about themselves or others, irritability, feeling very vigilant, startling easily. Source
  • Power of attorney
    A legal document that gives a selected individual or entity permission to handle legal matters on your behalf such as medical decisions, real estate decisions, and other matters.
  • Pregnant
    Having offspring or young developing in the uterus. Source
  • Pressure injuries
    Also called “pressure ulcers” or “bed sores” - Injury to skin and underlying tissue resulting from prolonged pressure on the skin. People most at risk are those with a condition that limits their ability to change positions. Bed sores often develop on the heels, ankles, hips, and tailbone. They can develop quickly. Bed sores can be difficult to treat. Treatment includes cleaning and dressing the wound along with reducing pressure on the sore by frequent changes in position. Source
  • Pulse
    The regular beating of the heart, especially when it is felt at the wrist or side of the neck. Source
  • Pupil reaction
    Pupils dilate (get larger) when room light is dimmed. Pupils are round and equal in size, in both bright and dim light. Pupils quickly and symmetrically constrict to a bright light directed into either of the eyes and when the bright light swings between the two eyes. Source
  • Queer
    Denoting or relating to a sexual or gender identity that does not correspond to established ideas of sexuality and gender, especially heterosexual norms.
  • Racially concurrent clinicians
    Care that is provided by physicians who share the racial identity of the person seeking or receiving that care.
  • Rape
    Unlawful sexual intercourse or any other sexual penetration of the vagina, anus, or mouth of another person, with or without force, by a sex organ, other body part, or foreign object, without the consent of the person subjected to such penetration.
  • Rectal tube
    Sometimes referred to as a fecal management system, or FMS, is a tube inserted through the anus into the lower digestive tract to allow the passage of stool out of the body, typically in a person who has temporarily lost the ability to manage their own solid waste, especially in the ICU.
  • Rehab hospital
    Typically a hospital or hospital-affiliated center where a person is treated with at least three hours of therapy five days a week to help you regain your independence after a life changing injury or illness. Source
  • Relationship anarchy
    Combination of polyamory and anarchical principles. Its practice has no norms but tends towards criticism of western relationship norms, absence of demands and expectations on partners, and lack of distinction between hierarchical value of friendship and romantic relationships.
  • Remains
    The body and all of its parts that continue to exist after a person dies.
  • Respiratory failure
    A condition where there's not enough oxygen or too much carbon dioxide in your body. Source
  • Resuscitate
    Revive from apparent death or from unconsciousness. Source
  • Risk management
    The clinical and administrative systems, processes, and reports employed to detect, monitor, assess, mitigate, and prevent risks, to proactively and systematically safeguard your safety as well as the organization’s. Source
  • Rounds
    When the medical team as a group visits each person admitted to the hospital to review that person’s status and care plan. In most care environments this takes place daily, in the morning. Source
  • Same-gender-loving, or SGL
    A term coined for African American and African Diaspora use by activist Cleo Manago, is a description for homosexuals in the African American community. It emerged in the early 1990s as a culturally affirming African American homosexual identity.
  • Sapiosexuality
    Describes attraction to the intelligence of another person. It is not a sexual orientation.
  • Sedation
    The medical use of a prescribed drug to produce a state of calm or sleep. Source
  • Sedentary
    Involving little exercise or physical activity. Source
  • Seizure
    A burst of uncontrolled electrical activity in the brain that causes changes in behaviors, movements, and levels of consciousness. Source
  • Self-identity
    The recognition of one's potential and qualities as an individual, especially in relation to social context. Self-identity is an internal awareness of who we are and how that identity fits into our social environment.
  • Severe neurologic (brain) damage
    A condition following illness or injury that causes a person to be in an unconscious state (other than normal sleep) for 6 hours or more, or a post-traumatic amnesia of 24 hours or more. Source
  • Sex
    Either of the two main categories (male and female) into which humans and most other living things are divided on the basis of their reproductive functions.
  • Sexual and gender minority
    Sexual and gender minority (SGM) populations include, but are not limited to, individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, asexual, transgender, Two-Spirit, queer, and/or intersex. Individuals with same-sex or -gender attractions or behaviors and those with a difference in sex development are also included. Source
  • Sexual assault
    Refers to sexual contact or behavior that occurs without explicit consent of the victim. Some forms of sexual assault include: Attempted rape. Fondling or unwanted sexual touching. Forcing a victim to perform sexual acts, such as oral sex or penetrating the perpetrator's body.
  • Sexual identity
    Refers to one's self-perception in terms of romantic or sexual attraction towards others; may also refer to sexual orientation identity, which is when people identify or dis-identify with asexual orientation or choose not to identify with a sexual orientation. Sexual identity and sexual behavior are closely related to sexual orientation, but they are distinguished, with identity referring to an individual's conception of themselves, behavior referring to actual sexual acts performed by the individual, and sexual orientation referring to romantic or sexual attractions toward persons of a different sex or gender, the same sex or gender, to both sexes or more than one gender, or to no one.
  • Sexual orientation
    A person's identity in relation to the gender or genders to which they are sexually attracted; the fact of being heterosexual, homosexual, etc. It is an enduring pattern of romantic or sexual attraction(or a combination of these) to persons of the opposite sex or gender, the same sex or gender, or to both sexes or more than one gender. These attractions are generally subsumed under heterosexuality, homosexuality, and bisexuality, while asexuality (the lack of sexual attraction to others) is sometimes identified as the fourth category.
  • SIDS
    Sudden Infant Death Syndrome; the sudden and unexplained death of a baby younger than 1 year old. A diagnosis of SIDS is made if the baby's death remains unexplained even after a death scene investigation, an autopsy, and a review of the clinical history. Source
  • SIDS awareness
    The sudden, unexplained death of an infant younger than 1 year of age that remains unexplained after a thorough case investigation.
  • Significant medical improvement
    A positive change in a person’s health that can be observed by the health care team using exams, lab tests, or other studies.
  • Skin-to-skin
    After the cord is cut, the baby is be moved up to the mother’s chest; this contact causes a release in oxytocin—known as the ‘love hormone’—in the mother; this helps the uterus contract, which reduces bleeding, and also warms up the mother’s body, which comforts the baby and results in less crying and lower rates of low blood sugar in the baby. Source
  • Sleep aid
    A medicine or intervention that helps a person to fall asleep more easily, or remain asleep longer.
  • Solid waste
    What remains in the digestive tract after all useful nutrients have been absorbed from your food; it is passed through the colon and rectum, and then out of the body when you poop.
  • Stomach
    Muscular, hollow organ in the digestive system that has a dilated structure and functions as a vital organ in the digestive system. It is involved in the second phase of digestion, following chewing.
  • Stool
    The solid waste that comes out of the lower digestive system; “poop.”
  • Straight
    an informal term for a heterosexual person.
  • Surgical delivery
    The delivery of a baby through an incision made through the mother’s abdomen and uterus. A surgical delivery is also known as a C-Section, Cesarean section, or Cesarean birth. Source
  • Surgical intervention
    Any kind of operation performed by a surgeon with the purpose of correcting a problem in the body.
  • Surgical restraints
    Devices that intentionally limit a person’s ability to move. They may be used to prevent someone from harm, to protect tubes and lines (such as breathing tubes or IV catheters), or to keep the body positioned correctly during a surgical procedure. Source
  • Terminal diagnosis
    A condition that will cause your body to shut down resulting in death, no matter what interventions are used.
  • Thoracentesis
    A procedure that is performed to remove fluid or air from the chest, either to diagnose a problem or treat a problem. A needle or small tube is inserted into the chest cavity and fluid is removed. Thoracentesis is also known as thoracocentesis, pleural tap, needle thoracostomy, or needle decompression. Source
    Trial of Labor After Cesarean means trying to attempt a Vaginal Delivery after cesarean section (C-section). A TOLAC becomes a VBAC upon the successful Vaginal Delivery of a child. If the trial is unsuccessful another C-section will need to be performed.
  • TPN
    Total parenteral nutrition – a way of getting nutrition into the body through the blood stream (through a central line or port) in people without normal digestive function.
  • Tracheostomy
    A temporary or permanent hole made in the front of the neck, connecting the windpipe directly to the skin; typically performed in people who are likely to need support from a breathing machine for a prolonged period of time (more than one to two weeks).
  • Trauma
    In physical medicine trauma is a physical injury or wound. In psychological medicine trauma is an emotional response to a distressing event. Source
  • Trial of life extending technologies
    The use of machines that perform the function of one or more of the human body’s systems, e.g., a ventilator doing the work of a person’s lungs and diaphragm, for a pre-set period of time to evaluate if it is helping someone recover.
  • Trial of life extending therapies
    The use of medications and machines to support the body’s vital signs and functions for a pre-set period of time to evaluate if it is helping someone recover.
  • Trusted contact
    Someone who you can rely on to act in your best interest. They will serve as a contact on your account should a situation concerning your welfare arise. This person must be at least 18 years old and may be a family member, significant other, close friend or personal attorney.
  • Two-spirit
    Two-spirit is a modern, pan-Indian, umbrella term used by some Indigenous North Americans to describe Native people in their communities who fulfill a traditional third-gender ceremonial and social role in their cultures.
  • Unlabeled sexuality
    When an individual chooses not to label their sexual identity. This identification could stem from one's uncertainty about their sexuality or their unwillingness to conform to a sexuality because they do not necessarily like labels, or they wish to feel free in their attractions instead of feeling forced into same, other, both, or all attractions because of their sexual identity.
  • Unplanned delivery
    The birth of a baby at home or elsewhere without the assistance of healthcare providers. This may also be called Sudden Birth or Emergency Delivery. Source
  • Urinary catheter
    A flexible tube used to empty the bladder. They can either be inserted through the tube that carries urine out of the bladder (urethral catheter) or through a small opening made in your lower tummy (suprapubic catheter). Source
  • Urine
    A watery, typically yellowish fluid stored in the bladder and emptied when you go to the bathroom. It is one of the body's chief means of eliminating excess water and salt, and other waste substances removed from the blood by the kidneys. Source
  • Vaccines
    Simple, safe, and effective ways of protecting you against harmful diseases, before you come into contact with them; vaccines use your body’s natural defenses to build resistance to specific infections and make your immune system stronger. Source
  • Vacuum delivery
    A form of assisted vaginal delivery that involves a suction cup being placed on the baby’s head which allows a provider to pull while the mother pushes. It is also known as vacuum extraction. Source
  • Vaginal delivery
    When a person gives birth though their vagina. Vaginal deliveries are the most common and most preferred type of delivery. Source
  • Values
    A person's principles or standards of behavior; one's judgment of what is important in life. They denote the degree of importance of some thing or action, with the aim of determining which actions are best to do or what way is best to live, or to describe the significance of different actions.
  • VBAC
    Vaginal Birth After Cesarean means deciding to deliver a baby by Vaginal Delivery after a previous baby was delivered via cesarean section (C-section). Source
  • Ventilators
    Machines that push air and oxygen into a person’s lungs through a breathing tube or a mask; typically used when a person is unable to breath on their own because of an illness or an injury.
  • Vital signs
    Measurements of the body's most basic functions; the four main vital signs routinely monitored by medical professionals and health care providers include body temperature, pulse rate, respiration rate (rate of breathing), and blood pressure. Source
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