Common Medical Terms
directives: A document that patients complete to direct their medical
care when they are unable to communicate their own wishes due to a medical
AIDS: Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome is an incurable, usually
fatal disease caused by a virus hat destroys the body’s ability to fight
off illness. AIDS causes recurrent infections or secondary diseases
affecting multiple body systems.
Ambulatory Care: Care delivered on an outpatient basis, including primary
same-day surgery and outpatient diagnostic services.
Ancillary: A term used to describe additional services performed related
to care, such as lab work, X-ray and anesthesia.
CT or CAT Scan: Computerized axial tomography. An advanced, noninvasive
method of radiological diagnosis that creates “images” of the body in a
Hospice: A facility or program that is licensed, certified or otherwise
authorized by law, that provides supportive care of the terminally ill.
Colonoscopy: Examination of the entire colon with an optic fiber tube
inserted through the anus and rectum.
Community Care: Medical care for those who cannot afford it.
Coronary artery disease: Disease caused by the narrowing and hardening of
the coronary arteries, which provide the blood supply to the heart. It may
produce angina pectoris, myocardial infarction, or death.
Dementia: Loss of mental capacity. Demented people may have hallucinations
and may not remember recent events or familiar people.
Endoscope: Long, flexible, fiber-optic tube used for examination of the
upper or lower gastrointestinal tract.
Endoscopy: Examination of upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract, including the
esophagus, stomach and duodenal portion of the small intestine.
practitioner (GP): doctor who works in a local surgery or health
centre, providing medical advice and treatment to patients registered on
Homeopathy: Therapy based on the administration of very small amounts of
substances to treat a condition or symptoms that would be caused by larger
amounts of the same substances.
Hysteroscopy: visual exam of the uterus.
intensive care unit - where very seriously ill patients are looked after
in a hospital.
Infection, Nosocomial: Infection acquired during hospitalization that is
neither present nor incubating at the time of hospital admission that may
become clinically manifest after discharge from the hospital.
Intermediate Care Facility: A facility providing a level of medical care
that is less than the degree of care and treatment that a hospital or
skilled nursing facility is designed to provide but greater than the level
of room and board.
intravenous - treatment is administered by injection into a vein.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): Using a scanner, this is a
high-technology diagnostic procedure used to create cross-sectional images
of the body through the use of magnetic fields and radio frequency fields.
Managed Care: A system of health care delivery that influences utilization
and cost of services, and often includes a capitated payment structure and
a limited choice of health care providers.
Midwife, Certified Nurse: A registered professional nurse with
post-graduate education in pre-natal care and the delivery of babies.
Mortality: Death rate.
Morbidity: Incidents of illness and accidents in a defined group of
Neonatal: An infant’s life from the hour of birth through the first 27
days, 23 hours and 59 minutes.
Nurse Practitioner (NP): A registered professional nurse with graduate
level education in a nursing specialty (i.e., family health, pediatrics,
Osteopathic: A school of medicine that uses manipulative measures in
treating patients in addition to the diagnostic and therapeutic measures
Optician/Optometrist: specialist health professionals who test eyes
and prescribe lenses to correct sight problems.
Over-the-counter (OTC) drugs are medicines that may be sold directly to a
consumer without a prescription from a healthcare professional, as
compared to prescription drugs, which may be sold only to consumers
possessing a valid prescription.
Pharmacists: specialist health professionals who prepare and sell
Physician Assistant: A health care professional licensed to practice
medicine with the supervision of a licensed physician.
Preventive Care: Comprehensive care emphasizing priorities for prevention,
early detection and early treatment of conditions, generally including
routine physical examination and immunizations.
Primary Care: Entry-level care which may include diagnostic, therapeutic
or preventive services.
Tertiary Care: Medical care of a highly technological and specialized
nature provided in a medical center or teaching and research institution
for patients with severe, complicated or unusual medical problems.
Triage: The process by which patients are sorted or classified according
to the type and urgency of their conditions.
Ultrasound: A high frequency (pitch above human hearing) imaging technique
also called sonography.