Medical words/terms

UKNOW’s Docs Medical language Medical words/terms

What does Anesthetic mean?

Anesthetic is a special medicine that is given to you to help you go to sleep.

Anesthetic = Sleep medicine

There are 2 kinds of anesthetic:
1. General Anesthetic (GA)  – this sleep medicine makes your whole body go to sleep,
– you will not hear, see or feel anything.  It is a different kind of sleep than what you do at home.  Even if someone tickled you, you would still be sleeping
– You will get a GA if you are going to have a surgery and sometimes for special tests
– You will get this sleep medicine through an IV or a mask. You will be given medicine to help you wake up from this special sleep.

2. Local Anesthetic – this sleep medicine only makes a small part of your body fall asleep,
– for example if you are having an IV,  a nurse may put special cream on your hand that makes your skin go to sleep so that you do not feel the needle
– you may also get a local anesthetic if you are having a special test, getting stitches to fix a cut, or if you are having a needle.

If you have any questions about anesthetic (sleep medicine), remember to ask!

What does Blood Pressure mean?

Throughout your body, your heart pumps blood through blood vessels.  The heart can pump the blood fast and slow. The speed that your blood moves through your body is the blood pressure.

For example, think about a garden hose.  If the water is just trickling out, the water is moving slow and at a low force, but if you turn on the hose all the way, the water shoots out really fast and at a high force.  This is how your blood vessels work; your heart can pump blood through the vessels slow or fast.  To measure how your blood is moving around your body, the blood pressure machine is used.

When nurses and doctors talk about your blood pressure they use numbers to explain how fast or slow it is moving.  For example you may hear 120 over 80.  The first number 120 means this is how fast your blood is being pushed out of your heart and into the blood vessels, this is called systolic.  The other number 80 means this is how fast your blood is going back to your heart, this is called diastolic.

What is Blood Work?

You may hear that the nurse has to do blood work.  This just means that the doctor has asked for you to have a blood test.  In order to have a blood test, the nurse has to take some of your blood.

The nurse will place a tourniquet around your arm, above your elbow.  The tourniquet is a synthetic (latex free) rubber band that is gently tied around your arm.  It may feel a little tight, but do not worry, it will only be on your arm for a short time.

The tourniquet helps to show where your veins are.   Your veins are where the nurse will take some blood for the test.

The nurse will first clean the area where you will be having the blood work, an alcohol swab is used, this may feel cool on your skin.

A small needle will be used to get some blood for the test.  The blood will go in special containers that store your blood.

When you are done, the nurse will place a small Band-Aid or gauze and tape over the spot where you had the blood work.  Sometimes there is a small amount of bruising on your skin at the place where the small needle was, this is normal.  Your nurse will tell you to apply firm pressure to this area for up to 5 minutes after the blood work is done.  Keep your arm straight while you are applying pressure

What is a Call Bell? 

While you are in the hospital, there is a button right next to your bed attached to a string which helps it to attach to the wall.  The call bell is a button you can push at any time which lets your nurse know you need help or need to talk to him/her.  When you push the call bell, a light goes on outside of your room to let the nurses know which room to go to.  Also, sometimes you might hear your nurse?s voice on a speaker in your room asking what she can do to help you.  If you speak normally your nurse will be able to hear you talking to him/her through the speaker

What is a Dressing Change? 

Sometimes you may hear that you have to have a dressing change.  This does not mean that you have to change your clothes.

dressing change is another way of saying that your Band-Aid needs to be changed.  A dressing is the wrapping that is used to cover a part of your body.  A dressing can be used for many different reasons for example to cover an area after having surgery, or to cover where your IV is.

The dressing is used to help an area heal; think of having a scrape on your knee and covering it with a Band-Aid.  It is also used to help keep an area clean from germs.

What does Febrile and Afebrile mean?

Febrile means that you have a fever.
Afebrile means that you do not have a fever.

Your body has a temperature telling us how hot you are.  Sometimes when you are sick, you may have a fever.  A thermometer is used to check to see if you have a fever.  A thermometer is a small stick placed under your tongue or under your arm or in your bum.

The normal range for body temperature is: 37°C or 98°F

While you are in the hospital you may have your temperature checked a few times a day.

What does Flare Up mean?

Sometimes when you have an illness there are times when you feel good and there are times when you may feel sick.

flare up is a time when your illness or disease is causing you some problems by making you feel sick.  You may have to come to the hospital for this.

For example, someone with Colitis, a disease of your large bowel, which is called the colon may have times when their disease flares up and causes the person to feel sick.  They may have to come to the hospital to have some tests and medicine to help calm down the flare up and to help them feel better.

What does Gauze mean?

Gauze is a special cloth that is used to:

Clean an area of your skin
Put on top of a cut or opening on your body to help it heal
Keep an area clean by preventing germs coming into your cut or opening on your body

Gauze is white and it comes in different shapes and sizes.

What does Greens mean?

Greens are the clothes that nurses, doctors and other people who work in the hospital wear.

It is a uniform.  Even though the name says Greens, not all the uniforms are green.


What is a Hospital Bed?

While you are in the hospital you will be using a hospital bed.  This bed is very different from the bed that you use at home.

It is a bed that has buttons that can move the bed up and down, as well as moving the part of the bed where you rest your back and head to help you sit up.  If you have injured your leg, you are also able to move the end of the bed to help your leg feel more comfortable. Your nurse will show you or your parents how to use the controls.

What does Input and Output mean?

Input means how much you have had to eat or drink.

IN  what you  PUT –  into your body = INPUT

Your nurse may ask you how much you have had to eat and drink today so that she can keep track of your INPUT.

Output means how much of the stuff that you put into your body come out (pee and poop, vomit).

What comes OUT of your body from what you PUT in it = OUTPUT

Your nurse may ask you to go to the bathroom in a HAT so that she can keep track of your OUTPUT. This type of HAT is not something you wear on your head.  It is a special container that you go pee or poop in to measure your output.

What is Isolation?

While you are in the hospital sometimes you may be told that you are in isolation and that you are not able to leave your room.

Isolation means that you may be sick with something that other people can get, or that you need to be protected from getting more sick from the people that come and visit you.

When you are in isolation, there will be signs on your door that tell the visitors what they need to put on before they come to visit you.

There are 4 things that people usually have to wear, sometimes they have to wear all 4 and sometimes it is just one or 2 of them.  The 4 things that are part of being in isolation are:

·          Mask

·          Gloves

·          Isolation gown

·          goggles or face shield

All of these things are to help you and the visitors who come to see you, including the nurses, doctors and family.

If you are in isolation, and you do not really understand why, ask your nurse to help explain the reason you are there.


What does IV mean?

IV is the short way of saying Intravenous.

Intra means IN and venous means VEIN.  So an IV goes into your vein.

The IV is actually a very small thin flexible plastic straw called a catheter.
The IV is used to help give your body medicine and a drink (fluid).
The IV usually goes into the vein in your hand or arm near your elbow.

What does NG mean?

NG is the short way of saying nasogastric tube.

Naso means nose and gastric means stomach.  So an NG slides into your nose and down into your stomach.

? The NG is actually a very thin flexible tube.
? The NG is used to help give your body medicine or food if you are unable to eat regularly, or used to drain fluid from your stomach.

What does NPO mean?

The letters in NPO stands ?Nil per os?, which is Latin.  This means ?nothing per mouth?.  You may have this sign on your door or on your bed to help remind people that you are not allowed to eat or drink anything because you may be having a special test or surgery.

NPO = Nil Per Os
= Nothing Per mouth
= Nothing to eat or drink or chew

This includes no gum or smoking.  Also, it?s important to ask your nurse if you may brush your teeth or not.

After your test or surgery, your nurse will let you know when and what you are able to eat.

What does OR mean?

OR stands for Operating Room.

Sometimes when you are in the hospital you may have to go to the operating room for an operation or for a special test.

The operating room is a room is  filled with special equipment, bright lights and a bed (also called a table).

When you are in the operating room, there will be doctors and nurses there with you.

What does Radiology mean?

Radiology is also called Diagnostic Imaging, or DI.  This is the area of the hospital where you go to have special tests such as:

·          X-Rays
·          CT scans
·          Barium swallow
·          Ultrasound
·          MRI

In the radiology department you will meet:

Technologists – people who give the tests.

Nurses – people who help with the test.

Radiologists – Doctors who are experts about your body, they read

the test and give the information to your Doctor to give to you and your family.

What does Recovery Room mean?

When you have an operation, and the operation has finished, the recovery room is where they bring you to wake up from the sleep medicine

There are nurses there to help you as you start waking up.  Once you start waking up the nurse will go and get someone from your family. Only one person from your family is able to come into the recovery room to be with you when you wake up.

Sometimes in the recovery room you are given a Popsicle after you have had an operation.

What is a Stretcher?

stretcher is a special small bed with wheels that is used to move you around the hospital.  If you have to go to a different area of the hospital for a test or surgery a porter will come with a stretcher to take you where you need to go.

What does TPN mean?

TPN stands for Total Parenteral Nutrition.

Total Parenteral Nutrition is a way that you are able to get your nutrition without eating by mouth.  TPN is given to you through your IV.

Sometimes when you are in the hospital, you may not be allowed to eat or even able to eat.  This may be due to an illness, surgery  or if you are not getting enough nutrition just by regular eating.

TPN is a liquid.  It comes in one or two large plastic bags and hangs from the IV pole.  When the TPN goes into the IV, it is going into your vein.  This means that it does not get digested by your stomach and intestines, also called bowels.  This is helpful sometimes when the doctors want to give your bowels a rest from working.  There are two different ways that TPN is made.  Sometimes the mixture will be held in one bag on your IV pole and be white in colour.  Or sometimes the mixture is held in 2 bags on your IV pole and is a white or beige colour.

TPN is made up of different ingredients that your body needs.  Some of the ingredients in TPN are:

·          Water

·          Glucose (sugar)

·          Salts

·          Vitamins and Minerals

·          Fat

·          Amino acids (amino acids help to make protein that your body needs to work)

This material is for educational purposes only. Please speak with the medical staff for more information.

© Copyright 2019 Kids’ Health Links Foundation. All rights reserved. The reproduction, modification, distribution, transmission or republication of any material from this Upopolis? website is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission of the Kids’ Health Links Foundation.

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