Healthcare Terminology

Healthcare Terminology

In order to communicate effectively with healthcare professionals regarding yourself or a loved one, read and understand the below terms and familiarize yourself when speaking with them.

Living Will:

A Living Will is a written document that allows a patient to give explicit instructions about medical treatment to be administered when the patient is terminally ill or unable to make decisions for themselves; also called an advance directive.

Healthcare Power of Attorney (HCPOA):

Healthcare Power of Attorney, is a written statement of a person’s wishes regarding medical treatment, should the person be unable to communicate them to healthcare provider. This should be designated person, approved by an attorney. All copies need to be notarized.

A HCPOA provides legal authorization for one person to represent another’s wishes regarding medical treatment and care should that person become unable to do so for themselves. Health care power of attorney names the agent as a representative authorized to make decisions regarding care and procedures as stated by the individual. Each state has their own HCPOA form and you should update your form to reflect your state of residence. During travel, most states will honor the HCPOA from your home state.

Do Not Resuscitate (DNR):

Do Not Resuscitate (DNR), or No Code, is a legal order written either in the hospital or on a legal form to withhold cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or advanced cardiac life support (ACLS), in respect of the wishes of a patient in case their heart stops or they were to stop breathing. This form DOES NOT address any other form of medical care and does not affect any ongoing treatment options. Each state has its own DNR form and they DO NOT transfer from state to state. The form must be presented as an original, no copies. Residents of SC if care is given in NC must have NC/SC forms.

MOST (MEDICAL ORDER FOR SCOPE OF TREATMENT) NC (only) form for use by physicians and other licensed healthcare facilities to assist in providing information relating to a patient’s desire for life-prolonging measures. These forms are available only at physicians’ offices, licensed hospital or healthcare facilities. The form is not transferrable to other states and must be an original (bright pink form). If you are a SC resident but treated by NC MD” s you may request this form.

Five Wishes:

Five Wishes is America’s most popular living will because it’s written in everyday language and helps people express their wishes in areas that matter most — the personal and spiritual in addition to the medical and legal. It also helps you describe what good care means to you, whether you are seriously ill or not. It allows your caregiver to know exactly what you want.

Families also use Five Wishes to help start and guide family conversations about care in times of serious illness. Five Wishes is helpful for all adults – everyone over 18 years old – and anyone can start the conversation within a family. Sometimes it begins with grandparents and other times it is the younger family members who bring up the topic. Regardless of your age, you can bring this gift to your family.

Additional Terminology You Should Know:

  • Ambulatory: mobile, able to walk or move around, not confined to bed
  • Anemia: low iron level, which can make you feel tired
  • Angina: sever pain in the chest, shoulder or back
  • Antibiotic: a prescription medicine or drug that fights bacteria
  • Anti-inflammatory: a drug that prevents or reduces swelling and pain
  • Antiviral: medicine that fights viruses
  • Atrophy: a wasting-away of tissues in the body
  • Benign: not cancer
  • Atrial Fib: a rapid often uneven pulse rate
  • Biopsy: process for removing a tissue sample for testing
  • Bradycardia: a slow heartbeat
  • Catheter: a type of tube used in various medical procedures
  • Cholesterol: a type of fat produced in your liver and transported through your blood
  • Chronic: long-term, lasting a long time or not having an ending
  • Edema: swelling
  • EHR/EMR: electronic health record or electronic medical record; the high-tech version of your old manila-folder patient file or chart
  • Extremities: your limbs, often in reference to your hands, feet legs or arms
  • Hemoglobin A1C: a test that looks at your blood sugar levels as guide to diabetic medication
  • Hypertension: high blood pressure
  • Hypoglycemia: low blood sugar
  • Hypotension: low blood pressure
  • Noninvasive: doesn’t require any penetration into body parts
  • NSAIDs: non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs which are used to reduce pain and swelling but which decrease the blood’s ability to clot
  • Renal: related to the kidneys
  • Subcutaneous: just beneath the skin
  • Susceptible: more likely to catch or be at risk for contracting
  • Sutures: stitches
  • Topical: on the skin or surface of the body, as in some medications are topical
  • Vertigo: a condition where you feel dizziness or a whirling motion