ABC Method: method of prioritization in which tasks which are most important and urgent are labeled “A”, tasks which are important but not urgent are labeled “B”, and tasks which are not important or urgent at this time and can be completed at a later date are labeled “C”.
ABCs of first aid: stand for A (Airway), B (Breathing), and C (Circulation). This acronym is important to remember when assessing a person who is in need of first aid. Airway is assessed for an obstruction, breathing is assessed to see if the person is breathing and if they need rescue breaths, and circulation is checked by assessing a person’s skin color, temperature and pulse, to see if they need CPR.
1-10 method: method of prioritization in which tasks that are most important are ranked “1”, while the least important tasks are ranked “10”.
Abdominal thrusts: also known as the Heimlich maneuver (see Heimlich maneuver).
Abduction: moving a body part away from the midline of the body. For example, abducting the leg involves moving the entire leg away from the middle of the body.
Abnormal fear: a fear or being afraid of something which is not normal, or excessive and not rational. Also known as an irrational fear. See phobias.
Abstract (things): things that can only be thought about or imagined; not concrete. When discussing Piaget’s Cognitive Development Theory, only children in the Formal Operations Stage can think about abstract things.
Abuse: causing harm to another. Abuse may be emotional, physical, financial, sexual, and/or neglect.
Acceptance: to recognize a situation without making attempts to change it.
Acquired: to obtain something. When discussing disabilities, a disability is acquired if it is obtained after birth or as a result of something not related to genetics. For example, a disability may be acquired due to an infection of the mother during pregnancy.
Active listening: to fully concentrate on what is being said, rather than passively listening or focusing on your own reply.
Activities of Daily Living (ADLs): activities that people perform on a daily basis in order to function and to provide self-care. These include eating, bathing, dressing, grooming, and toileting.
Actual expenses: expenses the patient and family has. These include rent, mortgage, or car payments, groceries, gas and electric bills, and costs for prescription medication.
Adapt: the ability to change the way one thinks, behaves, or feels depending on a situation in order to better cope/handle the situation.
Adaptive equipment: devices or equipment to help complete activities of daily living (feeding, dressing, toileting, bathing, other self-care activities, and mobility). They can include canes, wheelchairs, walkers, hearing aids, glasses, braille, special plates and eating utensils, and artificial limbs.
Adaptive immune system: this part of the immune system is responsible for making special cells called B cells and T cells which are used to fight infection. These cells are specific to various microorganisms and will either make antibodies or work to destroy any foreign material entering the body. Also known as the acquired immune system or specific immune system.
Adduction: to move a body part towards the midline of the body. For example, adducting a leg means the entire leg is moved towards the middle of the body.
Administer: to give, dispense, and manage (as in medications). Only licensed personnel such as doctors, nurses, and nurse practitioners may administer medications. Home health aides may assist with medications. Personal Care Aides may not assist with medications in any way.
Adrenal glands: one is located on top of each kidney. Produce cortisol, which is the stress response hormone and aldosterone, which is the hormone that regulates our fluid balance in the body.
Advanced Directives: legal documents that allow a person to choose the type of medical care they wish to receive should they become unable to state their choices and make decisions in the future.
Ageism: discrimination against someone based on their age.
Aging: a normal physical and psychological process which all humans go through as they move throughout the lifespan.
Agnostics: people who do not know if there is a God.
Airborne: transmission of infection via droplets that remain suspended in the air and which eventually enter a host. Measles is an example of an infection that is spread by this method.
Aldosterone: a hormone released by the adrenal glands, which helps to regulate fluid balance in the body by stimulating the absorption of sodium by the kidneys, and hence water.
Allocate: to distribute or assign to a particular category.
Alveoli: small sacs at the bottom of the lungs where oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange take place. Oxygen enters the blood and carbon dioxide leaves the blood within the alveoli.
Alzheimer’s disease: a progressive and incurable disease which is due to loss of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter within the brain. The most obvious symptom is dementia (loss of memory). Other symptoms include loss of thinking and reasoning skills, and emotional and behavior changes.
Amputated: removal of a limb usually as a result of a disease.
Amulet: a form of jewelry used to protect a person against mal de ojo (the evil eye). Also known as an azabache.
Anorexia: a disorder in which a person does not eat or exercises excessively; lack of appetite.
Anticoagulants: also known as “blood thinners”. These medications help prevent blood from clotting and will increase the amount of time a person bleeds.
Antioxidant: a substance used to remove free radicals. See free radicals.
Anus: the opening through which wastes or feces exit the body; the last part of the digestive system.
Anxiety disorders: a group of disorders in which people feel anxious, frightened, distressed, or terrified to an extent that is more excessive than would be considered appropriate to the situation. See generalized anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, phobias, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Aorta: the largest artery of the heart.
Aphasia: a language disorder in which a patient has difficulty understanding or expressing (speaking) language.
Arrhythmia: an abnormal heart rhythm.
Arthritis: inflammation in the joints which can cause degenerative changes within the joints, stiffness, pain, and decreased mobility.
Aspiration: when food or liquid enters areas of the respiratory tract such as the lungs where it does not belong. It could lead to pneumonia.
Ataxia: poor balance and coordination.
Ataxic cerebral palsy: a type of cerebral palsy in which people have problems with coordination, which affects their ability to walk or perform activities easily.
Atheism: a lack of belief in gods or supernatural systems.
Atrophy: wasting away of muscle either due to disease or immobility.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): a neurological condition. Symptoms may include hyperactivity, inattentiveness, and impulsiveness. People with ADHD may have difficulty paying attention or functioning in school or work, have trouble with social interactions, and may have behavioral problems. ADHD is a very common childhood disorder which often lasts into adulthood.
Autism spectrum: impairments may range from mild to severe. Symptoms may include not liking physical contact such as hugging, having trouble interacting with others when they speak with them, difficulty being empathetic, repetition of words or actions, seeming as if they are not interested in others around them, or difficulty adapting to changes in routines.
Avoidance: a defense mechanism in which a person avoids or stays away from a situation or person which they believe will be stressful or unpleasant. For example, a wife avoids going to the hospital to visit a friend because her husband passed away there recently.
Azabache: see amulet.
Baptism: the process in which a formal commitment is made to God. The procedure may vary among religions, but in general it is someone’s commitment to God or their faith.
Bed pad: special linens placed underneath patients to help lift them in bed.
Bed pan: a container into which bowel and/or bladder elimination may occur. These devices are helpful for people who have mobility issues and have difficulty getting out of bed.
Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy: a condition which affects about 50% of men past the age of 50 years in which the prostate becomes enlarged and compresses on the urethra (the duct through which urine flows from the bladder to the outside of the body). This makes starting and stopping the flow of urine difficult. Other symptoms include dribbling of urine and only urinating small amounts at a time. Also known as BPH.
Birth defect: an abnormality that is present at birth. Can be due to a variety of factors including inherited factors, gene mutations, and environmental factors.
Biweekly: paychecks that come in twice per month, or every other week.
Bladder: muscular organ which stores urine.
Bland diet: a diet followed to help avoid irritating the gastric mucosa. Spicy, fried, and foods with high fiber are avoided. Foods are usually cooked, soft, and low in fiber. This type of diet is often used when the gastrointestinal tract needs to rest.
Body language: a form of non-verbal communication. Posture, the way arms are held in relation to the body, facial expression, eye movement, gestures, touch, and the use of space are all types of body language. They all convey a message to the person with whom we are speaking.
Bruise: when blood vessels below the skin’s surface break and blood leaks into the tissue beneath the skin, discoloration is visible on the skin.
Budget: planning for expenses within the limits of the amount of income. There may be categories of expenses set up to allocate money in order to cover and plan for expenses.
Bulimia nervosa: a disorder in which the person eats very large amounts of food and then purges (vomits) or uses laxatives to have bowel movements in order to eliminate the food.
Burqa: the garment which covers all of a woman except her eyes. A religious garment of the Muslim faith.
Buttocks: the fleshy muscular area of a person’s rear end. Also known as rump, behind, derriere, bum, or bottom.
CPR: cardiopulmonary resuscitation. A person should be trained and certified in this technique in which chest compressions alternating with rescue breaths are performed to help a person who is not breathing and has no pulse.
Carbohydrates: essential nutrients our body needs in order to provide us with energy; the main way our body gets energy in order to effectively function. Carbohydrates may be in the form of sugar, starch, or fiber. Carbohydrates can be simple or complex, depending on the source of carbohydrate and how long the energy provided by the food lasts.
Cardiovascular system: a system within the body which includes the heart and all the blood vessels.
Care plans: prescribed treatments and services for a patient. They will direct the treatment team as to the types of services the patient has agreed to receive. Nutrition, nursing, physical therapy, counseling, and home care services will all be listed on the care plan.
Catatonic: to be motionless and not move any muscle or body part; to stay in one position for long periods of time. For example, a person with catatonia may keep their arm raised above their head motionless for many hours. See schizophrenia.
Celiac disease: an autoimmune disorder in which ingestion of gluten leads to damage to the small intestine. People with this disease must follow a gluten-free diet.
Cerebral: pertaining to the brain. See Cerebral palsy.
Cerebral palsy: a neurological disorder which affects motor development. Symptoms include muscle paralysis, muscle spasticity, difficulty with muscle movement, tone, balance, and coordination. It is usually caused by damage to the brain before or during birth.
Cerebrovascular accident: is also known as a stroke. A stroke can occur when the brain loses adequate oxygen supply. This can happen when there is a blockage in a cerebral artery in the brain, or if a blood vessel in the brain ruptures. Signs of a stroke include facial drooping, arm weakness, speech or concentration difficulties, sudden confusion, weakness, or difficulty with balance or coordination.
Chain of infection: how infection is transmitted. The chain of infection consists of five parts: reservoir, portal of exit, mode of transmission, portal of entry, and susceptible host.
Chemical burns: occur when a liquid or powder chemical come into contact with the skin or mucous membranes that line the eyes, nose, or throat. These types of burns can cause serious injury when exposed to skin, or if swallowed.
Choking: the airway is compromised which makes a person unable to breathe. Signs of choking include being unable to talk, cough, or breathe. Choking can occur while a person is eating, drinking, taking medications, or if an object is put into the mouth and accidentally swallowed.
Chopped food: cut into small pieces, to about ½ inch about the size of uncooked elbow macaroni.
Chronic conditions: conditions that last 6 months or more and which the person has symptoms for a long period of time. Heart failure, cancer, diabetes, and arthritis are examples of chronic conditions.
Circumduction: making a circle with the joint. For example, circumduction of the shoulder involves the entire arm and shoulder moving in a large circle.
Clean dressing change: during this procedure regular gloves are worn and every attempt is made to keep the wound area clean and free of bacteria. Sterile gloves and a sterile field are not used. Also known as non-sterile technique.
Clear liquid diet: foods should be in their liquid state and clear such as gelatin, juice, and broth. Foods are easily digested and leave no residue in the gastrointestinal tract.
Cliché phrases: overused phrases such as, “It will all work out.” Often used when a person does not know how to respond to another.
Clock method: a method used to inform people where their food is using the hands on a clock as an example. For example, “The mashed potatoes are at 6:00.”
Closed-ended questions: these types of questions have simple answers such yes or no questions. They end conversation quickly.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy: a type of treatment provided by a professional which focuses on how a person’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are related. Patients are taught to recognize negative self-talk and to turn these thoughts into more positive ones. Also known as CBT.
Cognitive Development Theory: this theory was developed by Jean Piaget and is widely used today to understand the cognitive development of children. The theory states that children go through four stages as they construct meaning of the world. Theories include: Sensorimotor Stage, Preoperational Stage, Concrete Operations Stage, and Formal Operations Stage.
Cognitive disability: a disability in which mental functioning is affected. A person with a cognitive disability has problems with mental functioning and/or ability to adapt to situations. For example, a person with a cognitive disability may have difficulty with reading, language, math, or behavior. See disability.
Cognitive impairment: difficulty processing (understanding) information.
Collectivist culture: cultures in which decisions and actions are made as part of a group and with consideration to the effects on the group rather than on just the individual person.
Communication: the process of exchanging information with others; a way for two or more people to connect.
Compensation: a type of defense mechanism in which a person tries to make up for lacking in one are or having done something wrong by being good in another area. For example, a man who cheats on his wife brings her home flowers and takes her out to dinner to make up for what he did.
Competent: to be good at what one does.
Complete care: a patient who requires all personal hygiene care to be provided for them. Patients who require complete care usually also require feeding, bathing, toileting, and transferring to be provided for them. Also known as total care.
Complex carbohydrates: are found in grain products such as bread, cereal, pasta, rice, and vegetables. Complex carbohydrates provide long lasting sources of energy and should be consumed more than simple carbohydrates. See carbohydrate.
Compliant: to follow a prescribed treatment plan. For example, a person who is compliant takes their medications as prescribed and follows all nutrition and therapy recommendations.
Compression: application of a wrapping such as an ACE bandage to put pressure on an area. Compression is used to treat edema and to reduce swelling.
Compression stockings: special stockings people wear to assist with promoting good circulation within the legs. Also known as elastic support stockings.
Compulsions: repetitive behaviors. For example, a person who has obsessions about germs may repeatedly wash their hands to the point of which it interferes with their ability to leave the house.
Concrete (things): things which are right in front of a person; firm, solid; not abstract. When discussing Piaget’s Cognitive Development Theory, children in the Concrete Operations Stage can only think about things which are concrete.
Concrete Operations Stage: according to Piaget’s Cognitive Development Theory the period from 7 to 11 years children learn to perform operations such as math and to reason logically but only about concrete things. They are unable to think abstractly at this level.
Condescending: to speak down to; to treat as if a child or less than another person.
Condom catheter: an external urinary drainage system in which a condom with a special opening is applied to the penis and then attached to a urinary drainage bag which collects urine.
Confidentiality: keeping information about a person private; not disclosing (telling) other people what a patient has said.
Congenital defect: a defect in the genes or chromosomes which is present at birth. Down syndrome or fragile X syndrome are examples of congenital defects.
Constipation: a lack of, decrease in the number of, or difficulty with having bowel movements. Can be caused by insufficient water or fiber intake, lack of mobility, diseases, and side effects of medications.
Constrict: become narrow. When blood vessels constrict bleeding slows down.
Construct: to make and understand meaning of the world.
Convey: to send a message or make an idea known to another.
Coronary artery disease: a narrowing or blockage of the arteries that supply blood to the heart. This may be due to plaque or stiffening of the artery walls. Can cause a heart attack. Also known as CAD.
Cortisol: the stress response hormone released by the adrenal glands. Also known as hydrocortisone.
Cradle hold: a hold in which an infant is placed in the crook of an adult’s arm and held snugly against the adult’s abdomen, while securely holding the head and neck of the infant.
Culture: a set of behaviors, beliefs, values, attitudes, and goals shared by a group of people.
Cultural awareness: to be aware about the values and beliefs of other cultures; how much a person appreciates the various aspects of the different cultures.
Cultural competence: the ability to incorporate cultural awareness into the health care practice. It means understanding and respecting a patient’s cultural beliefs and working with them in a way to demonstrate that you respect and honor these beliefs.
Culturally relevant: something does not have the same meaning from one culture to the next.
Cupping: a type of alternative medicine in which a glass or plastic cup is pressed against the skin, creating a vacuum in order to relieve the patient of pain and to treat respiratory diseases.
Cuts: can occur whenever a sharp object pierces through the surface of the skin. They can range from minor cuts such as a paper cut to major cuts from knives or other sharp objects that pierce the skin and organs below the skin.
Cyanotic/cyanosis: skin turns blue or gray due to lack of oxygen to the body tissues.
Cystic fibrosis: a genetic disorder which causes abnormally thick secretions, making it difficult for a person to breathe and manage secretions, which causes many secondary infections.
Daily expense tracker: used to keep track of all daily expenses for a period of time to provide information about where money is being spent and where spending cuts can be made.
Debt: any money that is owed. Some people incur debt by spending more money than their income.
Defense mechanisms: mechanisms that we use to deal with stressful situations or thoughts which help us to cope with the stressors; they are often unconscious mechanisms.
Delusions: abnormal thoughts. See paranoia, psychoses, and schizophrenia.
Denial: a defense mechanism in which thoughts and feelings are denied or refused to be believed. For example, a person who is angry at their spouse pretends they are not and denies they are angry when asked.
Degrees of impairment: a range of impairment from mild to severe which impacts a person’s level of functioning on physical and/or cognitive levels.
Dentition: the strength, number of, and arrangement of teeth in the mouth.
Dermis: the second layer of the skin underneath the epidermis.
Developmental delay: a delay in which a person does not grow and function according to normal patterns of development. For example, a child may not develop speech until months or years after children of the same age typically develop speech abilities.
Developmental disability: a disability that may affect physical, cognitive, learning, language, or behavioral development. There may be a delay in normal development or an impairment of functioning. See cognitive disability, impairment of functioning, normal development, or physical disability.
Developmental Screening Tools: tools used to assess degree of developmental impairment in order to determine treatments and interventions.
Diabetes: a condition in which the person is unable to make enough insulin to properly use glucose.
Diaphoresis: intense sweating.
Digestive system: system of organs which are responsible for digestion, which is the process of absorbing nutrients. Food enters the mouth, moves into the esophagus and then the stomach, moves down into the small and large intestines, respectively, and then into the rectum and finally the anus, where it is excreted as feces.
Digital Rectal Exam: an examination in which the physician feels the prostate for bumps with a gloved and lubricated finger entered into the anus. Abnormal hard and irregular bumps may be an indicator of prostate cancer.
Direct Contact: transmission of infection occurs through direct skin to skin contact, sexual intercourse, or exchange of body fluids such as while kissing. Examples include mononucleosis, Hepatitis B, and HIV.
Direct Transmission: infectious agents are transmitted either through direct contact with a reservoir or by droplet transmission.
Disability: an impairment of functioning which may be either of a physical or cognitive nature. See physical disability or cognitive disability.
Disinfect: to get rid of germs by use of cleaners or bleach solution made with 1 tsp. bleach and 1 gallon water.
Disorganized: does not make sense; scattered; no organization. For example, speech that does not make sense is called disorganized speech. See schizophrenia.
Disorientation: confusion, an inability to recognize oneself or others, where they are, what year or season it is, or events that are occurring.
Displacement: a defense mechanism in which feelings about a person or situation are “displaced” or placed onto another person. For example, a patient who is angry that they are dying takes it out on his family by yelling at them.
Diuretics: medications that help the body to reduce fluid volume. People take diuretics to help lower blood pressure or if they have heart disease. They help the heart to work less hard, as diuretics help remove water from the body.
Diversity: including and respecting different types of cultures.
Do-not-resuscitate (DNR): a type of advanced directive in which the patient has made a decision to not receive CPR or to have artificial respiration provided by intubation. A DNR is a physician order.
Doffing: to remove (e.g. gloves).
Domestic violence: abuse that occurs by spouses, intimate partners, or family members. It can include any type of abuse: physical abuse, emotional abuse, financial abuse, or sexual abuse.
Donning: to put on (e.g. gloves). Also known as gloving.
Dorsiflexion: to bend backward. For example, the toes are gently pushed towards the body to stretch the foot.
Down’s Syndrome: a genetic disorder due to an extra copy of chromosome 21. It can result in cognitive and physical disabilities. There are often physical characteristics such as a small skull, flattened nose, shorter fingers, a larger space between the first two digits on the hands and feet present. Also known as trisomy-21.
Draw sheet: see bed pad.
Droplets: transmission of infection occurs when droplets from sneezing, coughing, or talking are spread a few feet onto another person. Examples include pertussis and meningococcal infections.
Dry heat burns: can occur from heat that is dry, such as by irons, hair dryers, curling irons, and stoves.
Dyskinesia: uncontrollable muscle movements. May be seen in patients who are on antipsychotic medications or with diseases such as cerebral palsy.
Dyskinetic cerebral palsy: a type of cerebral palsy in which people have trouble controlling their muscle movements and their movements may be jerky and uncoordinated. The ability to swallow and chew can be affected.
Dysphagia: difficulty swallowing, usually due to a disease or illness.
Dyspnea: difficulty breathing.
Economical: being mindful of waste; using time, resources, and money efficiently.
Edema: swelling of a body part due to a build-up of water within the body which is unable to be removed due to a disease or disorder.
Elastic support stockings: see compression stockings.
Electrical burns: caused by sources of electricity such as electrical appliances that have been exposed to water or if a short occurs during use. These types of burns can cause very serious injury as they can burn both the outside and inside of the person’s body, damaging skin and internal structures such as organs.
Electrolytes: important ions within the body which have either a positive or negative charge. They help to regulate body functions such as fluid balance, pH balance in the blood, and heartbeat. Sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium are examples of electrolytes.
Emesis basin: a kidney-shaped basin used for vomit, spit, and other medical waste. Is used to allow a patient who is unable to ambulate to a sink to use to spit into during mouth care.
Emotional abuse: a type of abuse that occurs through emotionally causing harm to a person. This includes name calling, yelling at, humiliating, threatening, intimidating, insulting, making fun of a person, treating a person like a child or as if they are unable to think or make their own decisions, threatening a person in order to make them do something or to not tell on you for something you did or isolating a person.
Empathize: to try to understand how another feels; to view a situation from the other person’s perspective without losing your own.
Empathy: having empathy for another person means that you understand the thoughts and feelings of the other person.
Endocrine system: system within the body which consists of glands which secrete hormones and organs such as the thyroid, parathyroid glands, pancreas, and reproductive organs. It is important to control and maintain metabolic activity within the body.
Epidermis: the outer layer of the skin.
Erectile dysfunction: an inability for the penis to obtain or maintain an erection. Also known as ED.
Esophagus: muscular passageway through which food enters the stomach from the mouth.
Estrogen: a hormone which is produced by the ovaries in females and released to maintain female sexual characteristics, to produce menstruation, and to help prepare the uterus for pregnancy; present in smaller amounts in males. In males estrogen is produced by testosterone and converted to estrogen.
Ethnocentrism: thinking that your culture and beliefs are superior to, or better than another person’s.
Evil Eye: the belief that someone who strongly admires another places a spell onthem which causes illness. Also known as Mal de Ojo.
Excreted: eliminated or removed from the body. Urine and feces are excreted.
Expenditures: expenses such as rent or mortgage, groceries, and household bills.
Extension: straightening a body part. For example, extending a bicep involves straightening the arm.
FAST: the acronym to remember during a stroke. F: facial drooping; A: arm weakness; S: speech difficulty; and T: time (is critical).
Falls: situations in which a person accidentally moves from a higher to a lower position. Falls can be harmful and even cause death.
Falsifying documents: lying about tasks performed, documenting tasks prior to completing them, or changing information.
Familismo: a very deep sense of family connection; may include extended members of the family and close friends.
Fatalism: the belief that nothing can be done about a situation or one’s healthcare; it is decided by fate or karma.
Fats: essential nutrients in the diets, which include oils, butter, margarine, salad dressings, and animal fats found in meat, fish, and milk. Fat helps to protect organs, is necessary for cell membranes and for brain and nerve function, is used to insulate the body and help prevent heat loss, and is a carrier for other nutrients. Extra fat can also be used as energy for the body, or it can be stored. A diet high in fat can lead to serious complications. See cerebrovascular accidents, coronary artery disease, and myocardial infarction.
Feedback: the receiver responds to the message in some way to let the sender know they heard and understood the message.
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: caused when a pregnant woman ingests alcohol; can cause physical and intellectual disabilities and birth defects. Also known as FAS.
Fiber: include whole grain foods such as cereals and breads, fruits, and, vegetables; a type of carbohydrate. Fiber is important as it helps aid in digestion, helps to lower cholesterol, and helps us to feel fuller longer. See carbohydrates.
Fictive kin: extended family or people outside the biologic family; often referred to within the African American family.
Financial abuse is abuse that occurs with regard to a patient’s finances; includes stealing money or property, improperly using a person’s money for things other than the intended purpose, taking advantage of a person’s finances, and threatening to cause physical/emotional harm if a person does not give a person their money.
Fine motor skills: activities using smaller muscles such as picking up paper or drawing.
First degree burns: affect only the epidermis. These are the least serious type of burn. They usually appear red, dry, and slightly swollen.
Five rights of medication self-administration: proper medication administration/assistance requires the healthcare provider keep in mind five important rights: right patient, right medication, right dose, right route, and right time.
Fixed income: a person lives on a set income and must plan their expenses in order to fit into the amount of money that they have coming in.
Flashbacks: to replay an event repeatedly in one’s mind. See post-traumatic stress disorder.
Flexion: bending a body part. For example, flexing a bicep involves bending it as if to make a muscle
Fomites: inanimate (non-living) objects such as surgical instruments, used tissues, and dirty bedding. These types of objects can spread infection.
Football hold: a position in which an infant is held in a resting position against the side of an adult’s body, while securing the head and neck.
Foreskin: the outer skin that covers the end of the penis, which can be rolled down. This skin is removed in circumcised males.
Formal Operational Stage (11 years to adulthood): According to Piaget’s Cognitive Development theory, the period from 11 years to adulthood in which people can move beyond what is concrete (or right in front of them) and think in abstract ways about things that are not right in front of them or which they can only imagine. They are able to reason and perform logical thinking about abstract things.
Fortified: food to which nutrients are added in order to make them more nutritious. For example, many grain or bread products are fortified, or enriched with extra minerals and vitamins for extra nutrition.
Fowler’s Position: in this position the patient is placed in a sitting up or upright position at a 90 degree angle. This position is used for eating, drinking, and to aid with breathing. Pillows may be placed behind the person to help keep them upright. Also known as High Fowler’s. Semi-Fowler’s position is when a person is at a 30-45 degree angle.
Fragile X syndrome: a common intellectual disability, which occurs as a result from a genetic mutation on the X chromosome. Fragile X syndrome may result in learning disabilities, delays in speech and language, ADHD, and anxiety.
Free radicals: potentially damaging agents. Examples include cigarette smoke and pollution.
Friction: rubbing of two surfaces together, such as the skin rubbing against a sheet. This can cause serious injury to the skin.
Full liquid diet: foods and liquids in their liquid state or which turn to liquid at room temperature such as ice cream, pudding, and cream-based soups. This type of diet helps a person move from a clear to a regular diet and is often used after gastrointestinal surgeries.
Gait belt: a special belt placed on patients over their clothing to assist with safe transfers, such as moving a patient from a bed to a wheelchair, or to assist with ambulating patients who are unsteady.
Gastric mucosa: stomach lining.
Gender behaviors: how females and males act; the behaviors people think that are specific to males or females.
Gender differences: differences that may exist between the male and female sex believed to be due to biological differences or adaptations males and females must make.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder: anxiety is present every day for at least six months, which interferes with the ability to function in one’s everyday life. Symptoms include constant worry, feeling afraid and physical symptoms such as heart palpitations, trouble breathing, nausea, and headaches. Also known as GAD.
Genetic factors: part of DNA; genes which we inherit.
Genetics: a person’s genes or their biology, which has a strong influence on how people develop and the physical changes they will experience.
Geographic ancestry: where a person came from originally.
Glucose: sugar. Glucose comes from carbohydrates that are eaten and is used by the body for energy.
Gluten: a protein in wheat, rye, and barley.
Gluten-free diet: a diet free from gluten (foods containing wheat, rye, or barley).
Gluten intolerance: when eaten foods with gluten cause symptoms such as abdominal pain, gas, and diarrhea.
Gross motor skills: activities using large muscles such as kicking a ball or walking.
Ground food: cut into small pieces ¼ inch or less, about the size of a grain of rice.
Group therapy: therapy where many people with similar problems meet with a therapist to talk about and solve their problems related to life issues and mental health disorders. May take place inpatient or outpatient. See inpatient treatment, mental health therapist, outpatient treatment, social worker, psychotherapy, or psychiatrist.
Hallucinations: seeing or hearing things that are not real. See psychoses and schizophrenia.
Hands-only CPR: a technique from the American Heart Association, for those who are not trained in CPR. Chest compressions are performed at a rate of 100 per minute to the beat of “Stayin’ Alive” by placing hands in the center of the person’s chest and pushing hard and fast. An emergency medical service (911) is immediately contacted to request more advanced help.
Health care proxy: a type of advanced directive; someone who the patient designates to make decisions for them in the future should they be unable to do so.
Hearing: one of the senses; the ability to hear sounds; the ears allow a person to hear.
Hearing impairment: difficulty with hearing or deafness.
Heart failure: the inability of the heart to pump blood through the body efficiently and effectively.
Heimlich maneuver: a technique of performing abdominal thrusts on a person who is choking. With arms wrapped around the person’s abdomen, a fist is made with one hand with the thumb side of the fist slightly above the belly button. The other hand grasps the fist and quick upward thrusts are performed until the object is dislodged.
Hematoma: collection of blood. It may appear swollen and hard, like a large lump, and may be warm or hot to the touch.
Hierarchy: arranged in order of importance.
High calorie diet: extra calories are added to the diet, often in the form of protein. These types of diets help people to gain weight if malnourished or provide protein to promote healing. Also known as high protein diet.
High diet orders: a diet order that has the word high in it means that there should be an increase in a particular nutrient. Diets requiring “high” amounts should have extra of the nutrient added. Examples of diets with “high” amounts include high calorie, high protein, high residue (fiber), or high potassium.
High protein diet: extra protein is added to the diet. These types of diets help people to gain weight if malnourished or provide protein to promote healing. Also known as high calorie diet.
Holistic: to look at all the various parts of a person as a whole, including physical, mental, emotional, and social characteristics.
Holy Bible: the Christian holy book which consists of the Old and the New Testaments.
Human growth and development: the physical, cognitive, and emotional changes which occur throughout the lifespan as people age.
Hydraulic lift: a piece of equipment used to lift a patient from a bed or chair and transfer them into a bed or chair. These machines use fluid pressure to operate the lift. A person should be specially trained in their use to prevent patient harm. Also known as a mechanical lift.
Hyperactivity: excessive activity, difficulty sitting still, excessive movements. See Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
Imminent death: death that is likely to happen soon.
Immobile: unable to walk or move independently.
Immunizations: vaccinations which provide protection against disease, such as influenza, chicken pox, and measles.
Immunocompromised: people who have an immune system that is unable to fight infection due to age, or diseases.
Impairment of functioning: an inability to function according to normal developmental processes and patterns. See developmental delay or disability.
Impulsiveness: acting without thinking. See Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
In utero: in the mother’s womb; during development of the baby.
Inattentiveness: trouble paying attention. See Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
Incentive spirometer: a special piece of equipment which is used to help encourage a patient to breathe deeply. The patient takes a deep breath through a mouthpiece and is able to see the volume of the air they inhaled as a measuring marker moves with each breath. This helps to keep the alveoli in the lungs open and to prevent diseases such as pneumonia as well as to help improve breathing.
Incident report: a report made to document a situation, such as an accident, fall, or error which has occurred.
Inclement: unpleasant or bad weather.
Income: the amount of money that enters a household. Can come from a variety of sources.
Incontinence: the inability to control bowel and/or bladder functions.
Incongruous messages: one message contradicts another message.
Indirect Transmission: Infectious agents are transmitted from a reservoir to a host through airborne droplets, vectors, or vehicles.
Individual oriented culture: a culture that focuses on the thoughts, wishes, and actions within the individual versus focusing on how one’s behaviors impacts the other people within one’s family or culture. The United States tends to be an individual oriented culture.
Individual therapy: therapy which is focused on one person; a patient meets with a therapist, social worker, or psychiatrist on a one-to-one basis to help treat a mental health disorder. May be provided during inpatient or outpatient treatment. See inpatient treatment, mental health therapist, outpatient treatment, psychiatrist, psychotherapy, or social worker.
Indwelling catheter: a flexible plastic tube (catheter) is inserted into a person’s urinary opening and into the bladder. An external drainage bag collects urine. Some catheters are inserted to collect urine and immediately removed (also known as straight catheterization). Indwelling catheters remain inside a person’s bladder for long periods of time. They should only be inserted by specially trained healthcare staff. Also known as a “Foley”.
Infection control: methods used to stop the spread of infectious agents. Hand washing, wearing gloves, using disinfectant, regularly cleaning the home, and providing personal care on a regular basis, such as bathing, dental care, and toileting assistance are methods to control infections.
Infectious agent: anything that can cause disease, such as bacteria, virus, or parasites.
Inherited characteristics: those things which are genetically determined by genes received from parents.
Injury-related disability: a disability which is not present at birth but which is caused from an accident, injury, or trauma. Can occur at any point in a person’s life.
Innate immune system: this part of the immune system consists of barriers that protect us from infection, such as our skin and mucous membranes. The cough reflex, the ability to develop a fever, and inflammation are also part of the innaten the test and to the average score, which is 100. Often used to place children in grade levels or to determine proper interventions and treatments for those falling below or above the average level. Also known as IQ.
Interest: the amount of money a person pays on top of what they borrowed.
Intravenous: within the veins. Antibiotics, fluids, and other medications may be administered through the veins by inserting a catheter into a vein through a process known as venipuncture. Also known as IV.
Irrational fear: a fear which is not reasonable. See abnormal fear and phobias.
Joints: spaces in between bones which join bones together and which are cushioned by cartilage and synovial fluid.
Karma: the belief that consequences are caused by actions and that people create their own destinies by their thoughts and actions.
Kidneys: pair of organs which regulate fluid balance in the body and filter wastes from the blood which is excreted from the body in the form of urine.
Inpatient treatment: treatment which is provided within a hospital or rehabilitative type of setting by a professional who practices counseling or psychotherapy. May be provided individually or within a group setting. See individual therapy, group therapy, mental health therapist, psychotherapy, psychiatrist, or social worker.
Insomnia: difficulty getting to or staying asleep.
Institution: a facility or organization in which a person may live due to being unable to care for themselves independently. Nursing homes, homes for developmentally disabled or mentally disabled persons are examples of institutions.
Insulin: allows glucose to enter the cells to be used by the body for energy; released by the pancreas in response to eating.
Intake: the amount that enters the body or is ingested by a person. Intake is often measured to ensure that the amount entering the body equals that which leaves the body.
Integration: to include and involve a person with a disability with other people who do not have a disability.
Integumentary: skin system. Includes skin, hair, and nails. The skin is the largest organ of the body.
Intellectual disabilities: formerly known as mental retardation; having a cognitive ability below the average level for a person similar in age.
Intelligence quotient: a number which represents a person’s ability to reason and think (intelligence) on a variety of tasks; scores are compared to other people who have tak
Kippah: see yarmulke.
Labia: the inner and outer folds of the vulva, on either side of the vagina. The labia majora are the outer larger folds, while the labia minora are the smaller inner folds.
Large intestine: part of the digestive system; from the small intestine food moves to this area where water is absorbed from nutrients and feces are solidified before it moves to the rectum to be excreted via the anus.
Lateral Position: in this position the patient is placed on one side. Pillows can be placed between bony areas for support.
Lead poisoning: ingestion of lead which can be found in paint, particularly from older homes, children’s toys and other household items; can lead to a child having a developmental disability, cause behavioral or cognitive problems, anemia, and weight loss.
Leading statements: these are statements which encourage a person to continue speaking and which demonstrate another’s interest in what is being said. Examples include, “Go on,” “Mmm-hmm,” “Yes,” and “Tell me more.”
Leukemia: a type of cancer of the bone marrow in which too many immature and abnormal white blood cells are produced.
Liability: means that the person or agency for which one works can be held legally responsible for harming a patient or other person.
Lifespan: the length of time that a person or living thing can be expected to live.
Living wills: a type of an advanced directive which explains the type of medical care a patient wants and does not want to receive should they be unable in the future to make decisions for themselves.
Low birth weight (babies): babies who are less than 5 pounds 8 ounces at birth; increases the likelihood of having developmental delays or disability.
Low calorie foods/diets: diets that tain food which are low in calories. Foods may be labeled are reduced calorie, low calorie, or light. People with high cholesterol or who need to lose weight are often on low calorie diets.
Low diet orders: a diet that has the word low in it means that there should be a decrease in a particular nutrient or the nutrient is cut out altogether. Examples include gluten-free diets, low sodium diets, low cholesterol diets, and low protein diets.
Low fat diets: diets that contain foods low in fat. Foods may be labeled as nonfat, reduced fat, fat free, or light. People with high cholesterol or who need to lose weight are often on low fat diets.
Low sodium foods/diet: diets are low in sodium or salt. Foods may be labeled as low sodium, low salt, sodium free, very low sodium, or no salt added. People with high blood pressure, heart or kidney disease, or who are trying to lose weight may be on these types of diets.
Machismo: the belief that the male of the family is expected to provide for and uphold the honor of the family; often referred to with Latino families.
Major minerals: minerals which are needed in larger amounts as compared to minor minerals in order for the body to properly function. They include calcium, potassium, chloride, sodium, phosphorus, and magnesium.
Mal de Ojo: see Evil Eye.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: a hierarchy developed by Abraham Maslow to describe the needs that people have. Basic needs at the bottom of the hierarchy must be met prior to moving up the hierarchy. The levels include: Physical Needs, Safety Needs, Love & Belonging Needs, Self-esteem Needs, and Self-actualization Needs.
Matriarchal role/matriarch:a woman is head of household or has power within the family, leading the family during times of decision making.
Mechanical diet: a diet that is altered in texture, such as food that is pureed or finely chopped.
Mechanical soft diet: a diet that consists of food that is made softer and easier to chew and swallow by changing the texture of the food.
Mechanically altered diet: a diet in which the texture of the food is changed to help the person chew or swallow.
Medicaid: a joint state and federally funded health insurance program for low-income people. This health insurance program is provided to people who meet certain income requirements.
Medicare: a federally funded health insurance program provided to people who are above the age of 65, have end-stage renal failure or ALS, or have other disabilities.
Menopause: the cessation of menstruation; ova are no longer released and ovaries stop making estrogen and progesterone.
Menstruation: the process when a women discharges blood as the lining of the uterus is shed; usually occurs monthly until menopause. Also known as a monthly “period”.
Mental health: the ability to adjust and adapt to the changes and stressors of life and to demonstrate healthy emotional and cognitive abilities.
Mental health therapist: a professionally trained person who possesses at least a graduate degree and license or certification to provide therapy services. Provides individual or group therapy to help patients deal with life stressors or mental health disorders. May be provided on an inpatient or outpatient basis and during individual or group sessions. See individual therapy, group therapy, inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment, or psychotherapy.
Mental illness: disruption to a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to other people and ability to function at home, work, or school; often unable to effectively cope with stressors.
Mental retardation: a term which is no longer used to describe impairments in intellectual functioning. See intellectual disabilities.
Metabolism: how the body breaks down nutrients to use for energy and body functions.
Microorganisms: bacteria, fungus, and viruses which can cause disease.
Minerals: compounds which the body needs in order to perform a variety of functions and to work properly. Examples of minerals include calcium, potassium, sodium, and iron. See major minerals and minor minerals.
Minor minerals: minerals which are only needed in small amounts in order for the body to properly function. They include iron, fluoride, zinc, copper, selenium, chromium, and iodine.
Mode of transmission: how an infectious agent is transmitted to a person. There are several modes of transmission: direct contact, droplets, airborne, vehicles, and vectors.
Modified diets: diets that have changes made in a particular nutrient or the texture of the food.
Mood swings: to go from one mood such as happy to another mood such as depressed quickly.
Monounsaturated fats: include vegetable fats such as olive oil and canola oil.
Morbidity: causing disease or sickness.
Mosques: places of worship for Muslims.
Mouth: the opening at the lower part of a person’s face; begins the digestive system where we take in food and begin the process of digestion by chewing.
Multi-racial: having or belonging to more than one race.
Muscles: bands of tissue which have the ability to contract, causing movement; provide strength for the body to move.
Muscular dystrophy: a progressive genetic disease in which there is a gradual weakening and wasting away of muscle. People with this disease have difficulty with physically moving due to muscle twitching, stiffness, or atrophy. Also known as MD.
Myocardial infarction: also known as a heart attack. The heart loses adequate oxygen supply. Some signs of a heart attack include chest pain, pain that radiates to the jaw, neck, or back, sweating, difficulty breathing, nausea, anxiety, and chest pressure. This is a medical emergency and help must be obtained immediately.
Neglect: when a person is harmed by a caregiver or when the caregiver fails to provide necessary care. Examples of neglect include failing to: clean a patient up who is soiled, bathe, provide food or fluids or to turn and position a bedridden patient.
Nephrons: the filtering units of the kidney which make urine.
Neurologic impairment: an impairment of functioning within the person’s nervous system. Neurologic impairments could impact hearing, vision, motor coordination, speech, learning abilities, behavior, and cognitive functions. See neurological system.
Neurological system/nervous system: consists of the brain and spinal cord; impulses are transmitted to and from the nervous system to control body functions and movement.
Neurotransmitters: chemicals released by nerves which send a message; imbalances of these chemicals can cause illness such as mental illness.
Nirvana: a state of spiritual heightening in which there are no desires or suffering.
Noncompliance: a patient does not follow the treatment plan or medical recommendations as directed. For example, a patient who refuses to follow a prescribed diet or take medications their physician has ordered is noncompliant.
Nonverbal communication: the way we communicate without using words. Examples include shaking a head, rolling eyes, smiling, or crying.
Nonverbal cues: cues during conversation such as gestures, tone of voice, eye contact, and silence which indicate what message the person is trying to send or how they feel.
Normal development: set patterns for how a person should grow and function. For example, children typically are able to crawl, sit, stand, and speak at certain ages. Failure to do so according to normal development patterns is called a developmental delay.
Nutrients: parts of food that provide nourishment in order for us to survive. Examples include carbohydrates, protein, and fats.
Obesity: being over the ideal weight for a person’s body size.
Object permanence: the understanding that something exists even though it is no longer in sight. According to Piaget this is developed by the end of the Sensorimotor Stage.
Objective information: information which is factual and which a person can actually see, hear, touch, or smell.
Obsessions: repetitive thoughts. For example, a person may have repeated thoughts about germs which may interfere with their ability to function.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder: a type of anxiety disorder in which the person has obsessions and compulsions which interferes with their ability to function in daily life. Also known as OCD.
Open-ended questions: questions which encourage a patient to continue speaking. They show the patient that what they have to say is important. Examples of these types of questions would be, “Tell me more about your childhood”, or “What are you thinking right now?”
Opposition: touching the thumb to each finger. In opposition, each finger of the hand is gently moved toward the thumb to provide a gentle stretch of the hand and finger joints.
Orthostatic hypotension: a decrease in blood pressure that can be caused by a rapid change in position such as from a lying down to a sitting or from a sitting to a standing position.
Osteoarthritis: a common type of arthritis which mainly affects the elderly; occurs when there is a degeneration of the joints. Joint degeneration leads to inflammation. Symptoms include pain, inflammation, difficulties with ADLs and activities such as walking and using one’s hands. Also known as OA.
Osteoporosis: a condition in which the bones become brittle, thin, porous (full of holes), and fragile. Osteoporosis increases a person’s risk of fractures.
Outpatient treatment: treatment which is provided outside of a hospital setting by a professional who practices counseling or psychotherapy. May be provided individually or within a group setting. See individual therapy, group therapy, mental health therapist, psychotherapy, psychiatrist, or social worker.
Output: the amount of fluid or solid that is eliminated (removed) from the body. This is often measured to keep track that the amount entering the body equals the amount removed from the body.
Ova: eggs; the female reproductive cell. Ovum is the singular form of ova.
PASS: the acronym to remember how to use a fire extinguisher. P: Pull the pin; A: Aim at the base of the fire; S: Squeeze the handle; and S: Sweep back and forth at the base of the fire.
Palsy: weakness having to do with muscles. See Cerebral palsy.
Pancreas: an organ which has both endocrine (producing hormones) and exocrine (aiding in digestion by secreting enzymes) functions. The pancreas produces insulin which is important for glucose metabolism, and glucagon which is important to raise blood sugar levels in between meals.
Paranoia: thinking someone is out to hurt you. See delusions, psychoses, and schizophrenia
Paraphrase: a communication technique to show you are listening to another; to summarize what a person says.
Paraplegia: inability to use the lower part of the body due to disease or injury.
Parathyroid glands: four glands located near the thyroid and which are important to help with calcium balance by releasing parathormone. Also known as PTH. Low calcium levels cause an increase in the release of PTH while high calcium levels within the blood cause a decrease in the release of PTH.
Parkinson’s Disease: a progressive, incurable disorder which affects the nervous system. It is due to decreased dopamine, a neurotransmitter within the brain. Symptoms include tremors, a shuffling gait, stiff muscles, difficulty with posture and movement, and loss of balance. Dementia may occur as it progresses.
Patronize: to treat as a child or in a way to indicate you are superior to the other.
Peer pressure: pressure from other children or adults of the same age. People may “give in” to peer pressure in order to fit in with the group.
Penis: the male genital organ through which sperm and urine pass through.
Perineal area/perineum: the genital area between the vulva and anus in a female, and the space between the scrotum and anus in a male.
Peristalsis: muscle contractions; in digestion it aids in food pushed through the GI tract.
Personal care: providing care that is related to the patient’s body, appearance, hygiene, and movement.
Personal protective equipment (PPE): types of equipment worn to protect a person from infection and bodily fluids. Examples include gloves, gowns, goggles, and masks.
Phobias: a type of anxiety disorder in which a person has an abnormal fear about something in particular. For example, some people may have a fear of germs, spiders, heights, being outside the home, crowds, closed in spaces, water, or animals.
Physical abuse: the intentional or unintentional harm to another’s body. Includes slapping, punching, kicking, biting, cutting, bruising, burning, spitting at, pushing, shoving, restraining a person, handling a person in a rough manner or forcing a patient to do something they do not want, such as eat or bathe.
Physical attributes: characteristics such as facial features, hair type, and body build.
Physical changes: changes that occur within the body as people grow and develop. These include changes that can be seen (e.g. hair color, wrinkles) and those that cannot (e.g. changes in the immune system and reproductive system).
Physical disability: a disability in which the body is affected. A person with a physical disability may have problems with muscle movement, balance and coordination, and being able to perform ADLs. A physical disability may or may not be developmentally related. See disability.
Plantar flexion: pressing downward. For example, the toes are gently pressed down toward the sole of the foot.
Plaque: fatty deposits blood vessels which contribute to CAD. These fatty deposits cause the blood vessels to become stiff so that blood does not flow through them as well. Plaque is often caused by eating too high of fat and cholesterol intake.
Podiatrist: a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating disorders of the feet. Also known as foot doctor.
Poisoning: can occur any time a harmful substance is intentionally or unintentionally ingested.
Polyunsaturated fats: include corn, soy, safflower, and sunflower oils, and omega-3-fatty acids.
Portal of entry: how an infectious agent enters the host. It may be the same as the portal of exit. For example, influenza exits an infected person’s respiratory tract and enters another person’s respiratory tract
Portal of exit: how an infectious agent leaves its host. Examples of portals of exit can include the respiratory system, urine, feces, and even the skin. A person with the flu can transmit the virus to another person when they sneeze; a person with hepatitis B or HIV can transmit the virus through their blood or body secretions.
Positive regard: respecting another person and demonstrating that they are valued as a person, regardless of differences, and whether or not you agree with their thoughts, feelings, or behaviors.
Post-traumatic stress disorder: a type of anxiety disorder in which the person has experienced a traumatic event such as sexual abuse, rape, a natural disaster, or who was in combat and experiences severe distress afterward. Symptoms include flashbacks, insomnia, and nightmares. Also known as PTSD.
Predestination: the belief that Allah has knowledge of all that will happen; a belief within the Muslim faith.
Prejudice:Prejudice a preconceived opinion or bias about a person not based in fact or based in stereotypes.
Premature (babies): born before fully mature in the womb; babies who are born before 37 weeks of gestation. These babies are born too early and are not yet fully developed.
Prenatal care: care which a mother receives while pregnant. This includes prenatal vitamins, proper nutrition, and medical care during pregnancy.
Preoperational Stage: According to Piaget’s Cognitive Development theory, the period from 2 to 7 years in which children learn about their world beyond just senses and using motor actions. They learn to understand the meaning of words and images by looking at pictures, symbols, and books.
Pressure redistribution devices: Special equipment used to prevent pressure ulcer formation by distributing pressure across the surface area of the device. Examples of this type of equipment would be a cushioned wheelchair pad filled with air, gel, or foam.
Prioritizing: placing tasks in order of importance.
Processing: understanding information.
Professional boundaries: setting limits within professional or working relationships in order to maintain healthy relationships. This includes working only established hours, not contacting patients outside working hours, and working within the limits of the care plan.
Progesterone: a hormone which is released and which stimulates the uterus to prepare for pregnancy.
Prognosis: a forecast of how a disease will progress or continue.
Progressive: becoming worse; advancing.
Projection: a type of defense mechanism in which one makes excuses or blames others for one’s behaviors or actions. For example, a child who throws a toy at their sibling says, “She made me do it because she made me mad!”
Pronation: turning downward. For example, the forearm and hand are turned so the palm of the hand faces downward.
Prone Position: in this position the patient is placed face down with their belly against the bed. Care should be taken to avoid arms from being placed underneath the patient.
Proper body mechanics: using the body in an efficient and safe way.
Prostate gland: located at the base of the bladder and around the urethra in males; releases prostate fluid which makes up part of semen and helps sperm to move, aiding in fertility; also helps to control release of urine.
Prostate specific antigen: a blood test performed to measure the levels of prostate antigen, which is an enzyme the prostate releases. Low levels of the antigen are found in healthy men. High levels are an indicator of BPH or prostate cancer. Also known as PSA.
Prosthetic device: a specially made and fitted artificial limb or body part.
Proteins: essential building blocks the body needs to build and repair body tissues, such as muscles, organs, and skin. Sources of protein include poultry, meat, fish, eggs, milk, cheese, nuts and nut butters, peas, dried beans, and soy products. Protein is used as an energy source or converted to fat.
Proximity: closeness or nearness.
Psychiatrist: a physician who specializes in treating mental health disorders by meeting with patients to discuss their thoughts and feelings and to provide prescriptions for medications. See psychotherapy.
Psychological changes: changes that occur within the minds and behavior of people as they grow and develop. These include changes in learning to reason and think in more logical and abstract ways.
Psychoses: a loss of contact with what is real. See delusions, hallucinations, paranoia, and schizophrenia.
Psychosocial: the way social factors interact with emotional, intellectual, and spiritual needs.
Psychotherapy: counseling provided by a professional to treat mental health disorders; may be individual or group therapy and may take place within an inpatient or outpatient setting. See individual therapy, group therapy, inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment, or psychiatrist.
Puberty: a stage of development when hormones change and secondary sex characteristics such as body hair, breast and testicular growth occurs.
Pureed: food is cooked, cut up and put into a blender or food processor, while adding some liquid in order to make it into baby food like consistency.
Quadriplegia: inability to use both the upper and lower body, due to a disease or injury.
RACE: the acronym to remind you what to do in case of a fire. R: Remove patients from danger; A: Activate 911; C: Contain the fire if safe and possible to do so; and E: Extinguish fire or call the fire department to do so.
RICE: the acronym to treat bruises. R: rest; I: ice; C: compression; and E: elevate.
Race: a group of people with similar genetics and physical characteristics.
Racism: discrimination based on someone’s race; a belief that one racial group is better than another racial group, or that one member of a race is the same as all other members of that race just because they belong to that racial group.
Radiates: to extend to an area outside of the original source.
Range of motion: ability to move joints in different directions. Also known as ROM.
Rate of respiration: also known as rate of breathing. Normal rate of respiration for an adult is 12-20 breaths per minute. It is calculated by watching a person breath for one minute.
Rationalizing: a defense mechanism in which one tries to justify or reason one’s behaviors. For example, a teen who steals something tells her parent, “But everybody does it!”
Receiver: the person who receives the message.
Recuperating/recuperate: healing; to heal/rest.
Reflection: communication technique used to let a person know you are listening to them. Examples include, “You are feeling scared”, “I can imagine how stressful this must be for you” or “You are feeling anxious about what will happen to (patient name).”
Regressing/regression: a defense mechanism in which one becomes less mature or reverts back to a behavior used during a less stressful time in life. For example, an adult has a temper tantrum, or a child who is toilet trained begins to wet the bed.
Reincarnation: the belief that the soul reincarnates, or returns to a new body after the physical body has died.
Repetitive movements: movement of body parts which are repeated over and over; movements may be bizarre. See schizophrenia.
Repressing/repression: a defense mechanism used in which the person blocks out or “forgets” a bad situation. For example, an adult who was sexually abused as a child “forgets” that they were sexually abused.
Reservoir: a host; the person, animal, or place where an infectious agent lives and grows. Examples of reservoirs include: humans, animals, and the environment, such as water or soil.
Respect: acceptance and appreciation of another.
Respite: to provide a break from an activity such as caregiving.
Rheumatoid arthritis: a type of arthritis that can affect people of all ages and often progresses to the point where mobility is greatly impacted. Inflammation causes degeneration of joints. Symptoms include pain, stiffness, and difficulty completing ADLs. Also known as RA.
Right dose: one of the 5 rights of medication administration in which the correct dose is checked for accuracy prior to a patient taking the medication. The dose listed on the medication label is checked against that listed on the Care Plan or Medication Record.
Right medication: one of the 5 rights of medication administration in which the correct medication name is checked for accuracy prior to a patient taking the medication. The medication listed on the medication label is checked against that listed on the Care Plan or Medication Record.
Right patient: one of the 5 rights of medication administration in which the correct patient name is checked on the medication for accuracy prior to a patient taking the medication. The patient name listed on the medication label is checked against that listed on the Care Plan or Medication Record.
Right route: one of the 5 rights of medication administration in which the correct route of administration is checked for accuracy prior to a patient taking the medication. The route listed on the medication label is checked against that listed on the Care Plan or Medication Record.
Right time: one of the 5 rights of medication administration in which the correct time the medication should be taken is checked for accuracy prior to a patient taking the medication. The time listed on the medication label is checked against that listed on the Care Plan or Medication Record.
Route of medication: the way in which the medication enters the body. Examples of routes are oral, through the eye, ear, rectum, vagina, or inhaled.
Saturate: to become soaked, such as in bleeding so much that the blood soaks through clothing or bandages.
Saturated fats: include butter, bacon, lard, coconut oil, and peanut oil. Saturated fats are less healthy options than monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
Scalds: burns which occur from hot liquids. These types of burns occur within seconds and can cause serious injury.
Schizophrenia: a serious mental illness which impacts a person’s ability to think clearly, make decisions, have relationships with others, manage stress and emotions, and function in their everyday lives. A person with schizophrenia may have a variety of symptoms including catatonia, delusions, disorganized behavior, hallucinations, paranoia, psychoses, or repetitive movements.
Scope of practice: the limits which are placed on a person based on their education and training.
Scrotum: the outer pouch of skin that covers and protects a male’s testicles; part of the male external genitals.
Sebaceous glands: glands which produce oil.
Second degree burns: affect the epidermis and dermis. They are more serious than first degree burns. The skin may appear swollen, red, moist, and may have blisters or look watery and weepy.
Seizure: a disorder in which there is increased electrical activity of the brain. The person may have uncontrolled muscle movements, inability to follow directions, drooling, repeated blinking or other movements, and may stop responding.
Self-actualization: means to try to be the best person that we can be and to reach our full potential.
Self-awareness: becoming knowledgeable about one’s strengths and weaknesses. Similar to self-reflection which is the process one uses to become self-aware.
Self-determination: the ability to make one’s own choices, decisions, and plans.
Self-esteem: valuing and respecting oneself and learning that you are a good and worthy person. Self-esteem comes from within us, and from interactions and feedback from other people.
Self-reflection: a process of examining oneself in order to better understand how you see yourself and to make improvements. This process includes looking at both negative and positive qualities we possess and allows a person to become self-aware.
Semi-Fowler’s position: a position in which a person is supine (lying down face up) at a 30-45 degree angle. In Fowler’s position the patient is upright in a 90 degree angle.
Sender: the person who sends the message.
Sensorimotor Stage: According to Piaget’s Cognitive Development theory, the period from birth to 2 years in which Infants construct an understanding of the world as they interact with it using their senses (sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste). Senses are combined with physical actions and muscle movements such as pushing, pulling, and kicking to make sense of objects around them
Setting boundaries: the process of establishing one’s professional role with patients and families with whom we work. This includes discussing tasks that can and cannot be performed, hours and days to be worked, and how to best contact the healthcare worker.
Sexual abuse: abuse that occurs when a person is touched in a way in which they do not wish to be touched; includes fondling, unwanted touching, and any unwanted sexual activity; exposing oneself to a person and showing someone pornographic materials that they do not wish to see, or taking pornographic pictures of a person without their consent.
Shaft: the long part of the penis.
Shearing: when skin sticks to a surface, such as a sheet, and the muscles underneath slide in the direction the body moves. This can cause serious injury to the skin.
Side-lying position: a position in which a patient is rolled or placed onto their side.
Simple carbohydrates: foods found in sugars, sweets, syrups, and jellies. These are made of only 1 or 2 sugar molecules which are easily broken down and digested to provide quick forms of energy for the body. These are less healthy options than complex carbohydrates as their energy source is short-lived and tend to have higher calories.
Skeleton: made up of the bones within the body and provides support for muscles, protection for organs, and helps people to move.
Slide board: a special board used to help a patient safely move during transfers. It acts as a bridge from one surface to another to help patients who are unable to use their legs safely to stand. Slide boards may be used to assist with transfers into the tub, onto a bed, or from a bed to a chair or wheelchair. A patient’s skin should always be protected while using a slide board.
Small intestine: part of the digestive system which is responsible for the absorption of nutrients. The small intestine is connected to the stomach and consists of three parts: duodenum, jejunum, and ileum.
Smell/smelling: one of the senses of the body; the nose and its structures allow a person to sense odors and scents.
Social worker: a professionally trained person who possesses at least a graduate degree and license; social workers strive to promote social change and development; some provide counseling services on an individual or group basis to help patients deal with life stressors or mental health disorders. May be provided on an inpatient or outpatient basis. See individual therapy, group therapy, inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment, or psychotherapy.
Socioeconomic status: a person or family’s social and financial level.
Soft diet: food that is made soft in some way to allow people who have difficulty chewing, swallowing, or who are recovering from gastrointestinal surgery to eat and digest more easily.
Spastic cerebral palsy: the most common type of cerebral palsy in which people experience spasticity of muscles, and stiff and jerky movements which can make mobility and ADLs difficult.
Spasticity: stiff muscles. May be seen in people with cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy.
Starches: include grains, potatoes, beans, and peas; the most common form of carbohydrates. Starches are often used as thickeners in food. See carbohydrate.
Stereotypes: the belief that all people within a group are the same based on what you know about one individual within a group. Stereotypes can be about any characteristic of a person such as their looks, sexual orientation, weight, or behavior.
Sterile dressing change: a procedure in which a wound has a dressing that must be changed under completely sterile (free from bacteria) conditions. Sterile gloves which are kept in a sealed package and a sterile field is set up during these dressing changes. This minimizes the risk for any bacteria entering the wound. This is also known as aseptic technique.
Stigma: to view a person in an unfavorable or negative way due to a particular characteristic or illness; to disgrace; such as the stigma of mental illness.
Stressor: anything that causes stress. Includes both positive and negative types of stress.
Stroke: see cerebrovascular accident.
Stomach: the organ which is part of the digestive system and which is responsible for breaking down food by releasing gastric juices. It is connected to the esophagus and the small intestine.
Subcutaneous: fatty layer of the skin; beneath the epidermis and dermis.
Subjective information: information which is told to a healthcare provider by a patient such as about how they feel or what they think.
Sugar free: foods that do not have sugar in them or that do not add sugar to the ingredients.
Sugars: include fruits, vegetables, and sweeteners; a type of carbohydrate. Sugars occur naturally in foods such as vegetables and fruits, and are added to other foods such as baked goods. See carbohydrates.
Suicidal thoughts: to have thoughts about wanting to die.
Suicidality: statements of or actions which indicate wanting to die or hurt oneself.
Supination: turning upward. For example, the forearm and hand are turned so the palm of the hand faces upward.
Supine position: a position in which the person is lying face upward.
Support system: any person or group of people who can provide emotional or physical support, such as assisting with completing tasks.
Susceptible host: this is the person or animal that contracts the infectious disease.
Sympathy: feeling sorry for another person. It is more an expression of one’s own feelings than an understanding of another’s view point as empathy is.
Synagogue: a temple or place of worship where Jewish people attend services.
T cells: a type of white blood cell that helps our bodies to fight infection. T cells are part of the adaptive immune system. They work to identify and either kill invading organisms or to stimulate the rest of the immune system to help fight the infection. Also known as T-lymphocyte.
Taste: one of the senses of the body; the ability of the tongue to perceive or sense flavor.
Terminal illness: an illness in which the person has a prognosis of less than 6 months to live.
Testosterone: the male sex hormone which is produced by the testes in males and stimulates the development of male sexual characteristics. In smaller amounts it is produced by the ovaries in females.
Therapeutic relationship: creating a positive alliance, or relationship, with a patient.
Thickened liquids: liquids that are made thicker (less thin) by adding a commercial thickener or other additive to assist a person to safely swallow. Often used for people with dysphagia to prevent aspiration.
Third degree burns: affect all layers of the skin and may affect the organs below the surface of the skin. These are the most serious type of burn. The skin may appear white or black and charred and there will be no pain as the nerve endings have been burned away.
Thyroid: a large gland in the neck which makes and releases hormones. It is important for regulating metabolism, heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature. It is an important gland which affects every cell within the body.
Tics: repetitive behaviors involving the motor system (such as twitching or repetitive blinking) or vocal tics (such as grunting).
Toe pleat: pleats made in sheets or blankets to prevent pressure ulcers from forming on feet or toes. Toe pleats are made by pulling up at the sheets so that they are not tight against the toes and the toes have room.
Tone of voice: a nonverbal method of communication which often reflects a person’s mood; the quality of sound of a person’s speech.
Tonic-clonic seizures: have two phases: tonic and clonic. In the tonic phase, the person’s muscles contract and spasm. In the clonic phase, the person has repeated muscle movements, and their arms, legs, and torso may jerk violently.
Total care: See complete care.
Touch: one of the senses of the body; the ability to feel something with one’s skin.
Tourette’s syndrome: a nervous system disorder in which people tics. See tics.
Toxoplasmosis: a bacteria that is ingested by eating undercooked meat or handling cat feces (such as while cleaning out a litter box); can cause developmental disability in children if a pregnant woman is infected.
Transfer: to move a patient from one area to another. For example, a patient may be transferred from a bed to a wheelchair or a wheelchair to a tub.
Translator: a person who assists with communication by translating or converting words said by one person so another person can understand. They are used when a patient does not speak the same language as a health care provider. They are also used for patients with hearing impairments who speak sign language.
Traumatic brain injury: an injury to the brain from a trauma which results in damage to the brain. Also known as TBI.
Uncircumcised: a male who has not had the foreskin of his penis removed. This is often done as a religious rite or medical reason. If a male has this foreskin removed, he is said to be circumcised.
Unconscious: to be unaware of something.
Unintentional injuries: injuries that happen accidentally and are not on purpose. Examples include falls, choking, poisoning, fires, and drownings.
Ureters: tubes which carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder.
Urethra: duct through which urine passes through to the outside of the body from the bladder.
Urinal: a container or receptacle into which males urinate. Handheld urinals are available to assist patients who have mobility issues.
Vagina: a muscular tubular structure which is part of the female genital system, which allows for sexual intercourse and childbirth.
Vascular: relating to blood vessels within the body.
Vehicles: transmission of infection which occurs through blood, water, food, and objects such as surgical instruments, tissues, and bedding. Examples include Hepatitis A which is carried through food or water and botulism which is spread via contaminated canned food.
Vectors: transmission of infection which occurs through living organisms such as ticks, mosquitoes, and fleas. Examples include malaria which is transmitted through mosquitoes and Lyme’s Disease which is transmitted through ticks.
Vedas: ancient scriptures of Hindu.
Verbal communication: the use of words or sounds, which are either spoken or written.
Vertebral disks: disks which make up the spine and which have fluid in between each disk which helps absorb shock to prevent damage to the spine during movement.
Vigilant: watchful, observant of surroundings.
Villi: finger-like projections lining the small intestine which are important to help the body absorb nutrients.
Vision: one of the senses of the body; consists of the eyes; the ability to see.
Visual impairment: difficulty with vision or blindness (inability to see).
Vital signs: measurements that give an indication of a patient’s health, including blood pressure, respiration rate, heart rate, and temperature.
Well-balanced diet: a diet in which all the nutrients our body needs for proper functioning and energy are taken in and adequate water is consumed. Contains a variety of foods from all the food groups, as well as all the necessary vitamins and minerals we need.
Wet heat burns: can occur from hot liquids, such as hot water or steam.
White blood cells: special cells within the immune system that work to fight infection. Also known as leukocytes.
Yarmulke: a small cap. Also known as a kippah.
Yes and no questions: questions to which either yes or no can be answered. These types of questions are closed-ended questions and should only be used if a yes or no is necessary. They will not help to encourage a person to continue to talk.