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Medical Terms

Medical Lingo - TV medical dramas like CHICAGO HOPE/CBS/1994-2000, ER/NBC/1994+ and GREY'S ANATOMY/ABC/2005+ use a plethora of emergency medical terminology.

Patrick Dempsey as Dr. Derek Shepherd - GREY'S ANATOMY

The following is a short list of some of the more frequently used terms you might hear on a program:

  • ABG: Arterial Blood Gas
  • ACLS: Advanced Cardiac Life Support
  • AED: Automatic External Defibrillator
  • AMA: Against Medical Advice
  • Angioplasty: a catheter with a balloon on the end inserted into an artery and inflated. The resulting pressure opens up clogged arteries and clear out path ways.
  • BP: Blood Pressure, the measurement of the contraction (systole) and relaxation (diastole) of the heart.
  • Bradycardia: an extremely slow heart rate or slowing down of the heart rate. The term Bradying down mean to slow down the heart rate (It doesn't mean having a good time with The Brady Bunch). Tachycardia is an abnormally fast heart beat.
  • CT/CAT: Computed Tomography/Computerized Axial Tomography. An X-ray technique that scans the interior of the body to identify internal bleeding and other injuries
  • CBC: Complete Blood Count
  • CPR: Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation
  • CVA: Cerebrovascular Accident; a stroke
  • CXR: Chest X-ray
  • Defibrillate: To stop fibrillation (rapid contractions) of the heart. Usually this is done by placing electrodes smeared with gelatin on a person's naked chest and then zapping the chest with an electrical current to control the fibrillation of the heart muscle. Don't forget to yell "Clear!" to alert others near the body to stand clear of the electrical shock
  • D5W: 5% dextrose (sugar solution) in water
  • DPL: Diagnostic peritoneal lavage (saline solution wash)
  • DNR: Do Not Resuscitate
  • EEG: Electroencephalogram (monitors electrical changes /activity in the brain)
  • EKG: Electrocardiogram. (monitors the electrical changes/ activity in the heart produced by muscle contractions and is used to diagnose heart disease)
  • EMT: Emergency Medical Technician
  • Foley: a urinary catheter or tube
  • GSW: Gunshot wound
  • Haloperidol: a sedative
  • ICP: Intracranial Pressure
  • LOC: Level or Loss of Consciousness
  • MI: Myocardial Infarction, or heart attack
  • MRI: Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • NG or Nasogastric Tube: a tube fed through the nose into the stomach to deliver or extract materials
  • Sinus Rhythm: A normal heart beat/rhythm
  • STAT: Supersedes Tests All Types, meaning right away or immediately. The sitcom STAT/ABC/1991 starred Dennis Bourtsikaris as Dr. Tony Menzies, a cool-headed, analytical physician at Hudson Memorial Trauma Center
  • Sux or Succinylcholine: a drug that induces paralysis; Tox screen: Analysis of blood toxins or poisons
  • TPA: Tissue Plasminogen Activator, a drug that dissolves clots; and Type and Cross-Match: Checking a person's blood type before giving a transfusion
  • Ultrasound: Sound frequencies above 20,000 vibrations per second used in medical facilities to detect internal organs and other objects inside the human body such as an image of a growing fetus (or baby).


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