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glossary of terms

ABG (arterial blood gas) – A sample of blood taken from an artery, usually at the wrist, that measures the levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood to determine how well a patient’s lungs are working.

AC (assist/control) – A method of artificial respiration in which breathing is produced automatically after a set interval if the patient has not begun to breathe earlier.

Accessory muscles – Muscles of the neck, back, stomach and between the ribs.

Administer – Give.

Alarm – A sound emitted from a machine to alert the staff that the machine needs attention.

Anxiety – Fear that presents as restlessness, increased heart rate and trouble breathing.

BSI (bloodstream infection) – An infection in the blood when a PICC (peripherally inserted central catheter) line or central line is present.

BBS (bilateral breath sounds) – The sounds of breathing on both sides of the chest.

BP (blood pressure) – A vital sign that measures the pressure of blood against the walls of the blood vessels.

Bronchodilator – Medication that opens up the tubes in the lung to help the patient breathe.

Cardiac – Related to the heart.

CMI (case mix index) – The Medicare rating that measures the severity of a patient’s illness.

Central line – A type of IV placed in the upper chest area that allows easier access to administer medications and take blood samples.

CNA – Certified nursing assistant.

Cuffless – No balloon at the end of the breathing tube.

Cuff pressure – Measurement of air that inflates the balloon on the outside of the tracheotomy tube.

Culture – A test to determine if infection is present and identify which antibiotic to use for that infection.

Cyanosis – Bluish color to the skin and inside the mouth caused by too little oxygen.

Decannulation – The removal of the breathing tube.

Diaphoresis – An abnormal increase in the amount of sweat.

Diastolic - The bottom number of the blood pressure measurement.

Disposition – Placement when a patient leaves the hospital.

Endocrine – Relating to the glandular system.

Fenestrated – Small holes in the tracheotomy tube.

FiO2 – Oxygen level.

Fluid overload – An unusual amount of water retained by the body.

F/Vt – Respiratory rate and the amount of air given each breath.

GI (gastroenterology) – Related to the gastrointestinal tract (digestive system).

Hematology – Related to blood and blood-producing organs.

High pressure – An alarm on the ventilator that sounds when the patient coughs or tries to talk.

HR (heart rate) – A vital sign signaling the amount of times the heart beats in one minute.

Interdisciplinary team – A team of caregivers from different specialty areas.

IV (intravenous) – The giving of liquid substances directly into a vein.

Length of Stay (LOS) – The amount of time a patient stays in the hospital.

Length of stay on ventilator – The amount of time a patient stays on a ventilator before being weaned.

Low pressure – An alarm indicating an air leak or disconnection from the ventilator.

LPN – Licensed practical nurse.

MD – Medical doctor.

Mental status – A patient’s ability to know the current day, date and time.

Mode - A setting on the ventilator that dictates the pattern of breathing.

NGT (nasogastric tube) – A feeding tube placed in the nose that runs to the stomach.

NP – Nurse practitioner.

OT – Occupational therapist.

Oncology – The study of cancer.

PA – Physician assistant.

PCT – Patient care technician.

Peep – Pressure that holds the lungs open.

pH – A blood test that measures how well the patient is breathing.

PICC (peripherally inserted central catheter) – An IV inserted into the upper arm.

PLOF (prior level of function) – The patient’s functional level prior to hospitalization.

PMV (Passey Muir valve) – A speaking valve.

PO – Drinking or eating by mouth.

PPN (peripheral parenteral nutrition) – Nutrition provided through an IV.

Protocol – Medical guideline.

PRVC (pressure-regulated volume control) – A type of ventilator setting that allows the patient to rest.

PSV – A type of ventilator setting for weaning the patient from the ventilator.

Pulse ox – A machine that measures oxygen level and heart rate.

RD – Registered dietitian.

Renal – Referring to the kidneys.

RN – Registered nurse.

RR (respiratory rate) – The number of breaths per minute.

RT – Respiratory therapist.

SAT (saturation level) – A vital sign that measures the amount of oxygen in the blood through a finger probe.

SPO2 – A measurement of oxygen level.

Stabilized – Resting comfortably.

Systolic – The top number of the blood pressure measurement.

Tidal volume – The amount of air that a patient breathes in and out.

TPN (total parenteral nutrition) – Nutrition provided through an IV.

Trach (tracheotomy) – A tube placed into a hole in the wind pipe to allow breathing.

Trach collar (T-collar or T/C) – An oxygen mask over the airway.

T-care (tracheostomy care) – Cleaning around the airway.

Tube feeding – Liquid formula provided by a tube through either the nose or stomach.

UTI (urinary tract infection) – An infection of the urinary system.

Vascular – Related to the blood vessels and circulatory system.

VAP (ventilator-associated pneumonia) – Pneumonia that develops while the patient is on a ventilator.

Ventilator (vent) – Breathing machine.

Vital signs – The measurement of how fast the heart is beating, how fast a patient is breathing and body temperature.

Vt – The volume of air with each breath.

Wean – To withdraw or remove the breathing machine so that the patient can breathe independently.

Wean rate – The number of patients who are weaned from the ventilator.

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