Terms G-I

Gait Assessment Rating Scale (GARS): An inventory of 16 abnormal aspects of gait observed by an examiner as a patient walks at a self-selected pace.

Gait Disorder: An abnormality in the manner of style or walking.

Gallbladder (GB): It stores and concentrates bile, which it receives from the liver via the hepatic duct. In an adult it holds about 32 mL of bile. During digestion of fats the gallbladder contracts, ejecting bile through the common bile duct into the duodenum.

Gamma Radiation: Course of nuclear transition. Gamma radiation can injure and destroy body cells and tissue, especially cell nuclei. However, controlled application of gamma radiation is important in the diagnosis and treatment of various conditions, including skin cancer and malignancies deep within the body.

Ganglion: A knot or knot-like mass of nervous tissue.

Gangrene: Necrosis or death of tissue, usually the result of ischemia (loss of blood supply), bacterial invasion, and subsequent putrification. Dry gangrene is a late complication of diabetes mellitus that is already complicated by arteriosclerosis, in which the affected extremity becomes cold, dry, and shriveled and eventually turns black. Most gangrene may follow a crushing injury or an obstruction of blood flow by an embolism, tight bandages, or a tourniquet. This form of gangrene has an offensive odor, spreads rapidly, and may result in death in a few days. In all types of gangrene surgical debridement is necessary to remove the necrotic tissue before healing can progress. Cleanliness and maintenance of good circulation are nursing considerations essential in preventing this condition.

Gastric: Pertaining to the stomach.

Gastroenteritis: Inflammation of the stomach and intestines accompanying numerous GI disorders. Symptoms include fever, anorexia, nausea, vomiting, fever, abdominal discomfort, and diarrhea.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): An anxiety reaction characterized by persistent apprehension. The symptoms range from mild, chronic tenseness, with feelings of timidity, fatigue, apprehension, and indecisiveness, to more intense states of restlessness and irritability that may lead to aggressive acts.

Gene Therapy: A procedure that involves injection of “healthy genes” into the bloodstream of a patient to cure or treat a hereditary disease or similar illness.

Geriatrician: A physician who has specialized postgraduate education and experience in the medical care of older persons.

Geriatric Nurse Practitioner: A registered nurse with additional education obtained through a master’s degree program in nursing or a non-degree-granting certificate program that prepares the nurse to deliver primary health care to elder adults.

Geriatrics: The area of medicine dealing with the physiologic characteristics of aging and diagnosis and treatment of diseases affecting the elderly.

Gerontology: The study of all aspects of the aging process, including the clinical, psychological, economic, and sociologic issues encountered by older persons and their consequences for both the individual and society.

Giant Cell Carcinoma: A malignant epithelial neoplasm characteristically containing many large anaplastic cells.

Glasgow Coma Scale: A quick, practical standardized system for assessing the degree of conscious impairment in the critically ill and for predicting the duration and ultimate outcome of coma, primarily in patients with head injuries. The system involves three determinants, eye opening, verbal response, and motor response, all of which are evaluated independently according to a ranking order that reflects the level of consciousness and degree of dysfunction.

Glucagon: A polypeptide hormone, produced by alpha cells in the Islets of Langerhans, that stimulates the conversion of glycogen to glucose in the liver.

Gluco or Glyco: Combining form meaning ‘sweetness or glucose’.

Glucose: A simple sugar found in certain foods, especially fruits, and a major source of energy present in the blood and animal body fluids. Excess glucose in circulation is normally polymerized within the liver and muscles as glycogen, which is hydrolyzed to glucose and liberated as needed.

Gluteal Fold: A fold of the buttock at the the horizontal lower margin of the buttock at its junction with the thigh.

Gout: A disease associated with an inborn error of uric acid metabolism that increases production or interferes with excretion of uric acid. Excess uric acid is converted to sodium urate crystals that precipitate from the blood and become deposited in joints and other tissues. Men are more often affected than women. The great toe is a
common site for the accumulation of urate crystals. The condition can cause exceedingly painful swelling of a joint, accompanied by chills and fever.

Gram-Negative: Having the pink color of the counter stain used in Gram’s method of staining microorganisms. This property is a primary method of characterizing organisms in microbiology. Brucella abortus, Escherichia coli, Haemophilus influenza, Klebsiella pneumonia, Proteus vulgaris, Salmonella typhi are typically referred to as gram negative organisms.

Gram-Positive: Retaining the violet color of the stain used in Gram’s method of staining microorganisms. This property is a primary method of characterizing organisms in microbiology. Some of the most common kinds of gram-positive pathogenic bacteria are Bacillus anthracis, Clostridium, Staphylococcus, Streptococci.

Habeus Corpus: A right retained by all psychiatric patients that provides for the release of individuals who claim they are being deprived of their liberty and detained illegally.

Haemophilus: A genus gram-negative pathogenic bacteria, frequently found in the respiratory tract of humans.

Halfway House: A specialized treatment facility, usually for psychiatric patients who no longer require complete hospitalization, but who need some care and time to adjust to living independently. Halfway houses are also used for substance abuse recovery.

Haloperidol: Tranquilizer. It is prescribed in the treatment of psychotic disorders.

Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA): The branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services responsible for administering the Medicare and Medicaid programs. HCFA sets the coverage policy, payment, and other guidelines and directs the activities of government contractors (e.g., carriers and fiscal intermediaries).

Health Maintenance Organization (HMO): A type of group health care practice that provides basic and supplemental health maintenance and treatment services to voluntary enrollees who prepay a fixed periodic fee that is set without regard to the amount or kind of services received. In addition to diagnostic and treatment services, including hospitalization and surgery, an HMO often offers supplemental services such as dental, mental, and eye care, and prescription drugs. Federal financing support for the establishment of HMOs was provided under Title XIII of the 1973 U.S. Public Health Services Act.

Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA): A U.S. federal agency with responsibilities for the distribution of health information. This includes audiovisual materials relating to a wide range of health subjects such as recruitment of minorities into the health professions, and the role of women in dentistry.

Heart-Lung Machine: An apparatus consisting of a pump and an oxygenator that takes over the function of the heart and lungs, especially during open heart surgery.

Heimlich Maneuver: An emergency procedure for dislodging a bolus of food or other obstruction from the trachea to prevent asphyxiation.

Hematemesis: Vomiting of bright red blood, indicating rapid upper GI bleeding, commonly associated with esophageal varices of a peptic ulcer.

Hematoma: Swelling containing blood, also known as a bruise.

Hematuria: Abnormal presence of blood in the urine. It is symptomatic of various renal diseases and disorders of the genitourinary system.

Hemiparesis: Muscular weakness of one half of the body.

Hemodialysis: A procedure in which impurities or wastes are removed from the blood.

Hemoglobin: A complex protein-iron compound in the blood that carries oxygen to the cells from the lungs and carbon dioxide away from the cells of the lungs.

Hemorrhage: A loss of a large amount of blood in a short period, either externally or internally. Hemorrhage may be arterial, venous, or capillary.

Hemorrhagic Shock: Shock associated with the sudden and rapid loss of significant amounts of blood.

Hemorrhoid: Varicosity in the lower rectum or anus caused by congestion in the veins of the hemorrhoidal plexus.

Heparin: A naturally occurring mucopolysaccharide that acts in the body as an antithrombin factor to prevent intravascular clotting. The substance is produced by basophiles and mast cells, which are found in large numbers in the connective tissue surrounding capillaries, particularly in the lungs and liver. In the form of sodium salt, heparin is used therapeutically as an anticoagulant.

Hepatic Dyspepsia: A digestive difficulty caused by a liver disorder.

Hepatitis: An inflammatory condition of the liver, characterized by jaundice, hepatomegaly (an enlarged liver), anorexia, abdominal and gastric discomfort, abnormal liver function, clay-colored stools, and clay-colored urine.

Hepatotoxicity: The tendency of an agent, usually a drug or alcohol, to have a destructive effect on the liver.

Hernia: Protrusion or projection of an organ through an abnormal opening in the muscle wall of the cavity that surrounds it. A hernia may be congenital, may result from the failure of certain structures to close after birth, or may be acquired later in life as a result of obesity, muscular weakness, surgery, or illness.

Hernial Sac: A pouch of peritoneum into which organs or other tissues pass to form a hernia.

Herniated Disk: A rupture of the fibrocartilage surrounding an intervertebral disk, releasing the nucleus pulposus that cushions the vertebrae above and below. The resultant pressure on spinal nerve roots may cause considerable pain and damage the nerves, resulting in restriction of movement. The condition most frequently occurs in the lumbar region. Also called herniated intervertebral disk, herniated nucleus pulposus, ruptured intervertebral disk, slipped disk. Herniated disks may occur due to trauma, like an automobile accident.

High-density Lipoprotein (HDL): A plasma protein made mainly in the liver and containing about 50% lipoprotein (apoprotein) along with cholesterol, triglycerides and phospholipid and is involved in transporting cholesterol and other lipids to the liver to be disposed. Higher levels of high-density lipoprotein are associated with decreased cardiac risk profiles.  This is sometimes called "the good cholesterol".

Hippocratic Oath: An oath, attributed to Hippocrates, that serves as an ethical guide for the medical profession.

Hip Replacement: Substitution of an artificial ball and socket joint for the hip joint. Hip replacement may be performed to relieve a chronically painful and stiff hip in advanced osteoarthritis, an improperly healed fracture, or because of destruction of the joint due to trauma or degeneration of the joint. Antibiotic therapy is begun before surgery, and the patient is taught to walk with crutches or a walker.

Histology: The science dealing with the microscopic identification of cells and tissue.

Holter Monitor: Trademark for a device for making prolonged electrocardiograph recordings on a portable tape recorder while the patient conducts normal daily activities. Also called an ambulatory electrocardiograph.

Home Health Nurse: A registered nurse who visits patients in the home. The nurse works primarily in the area of secondary or tertiary care, providing hands-on care and educating the patient and family on care and prevention of future episodes.

Homeostasis: A relative constancy in the internal environment of the body, naturally maintained by adaptive responses that promote health and survival.

Hospice: Typically referring to end of life care or services provided at the home for terminally ill patients.

Human Ecology: The study of the interrelationships between people and their environments.

Hunger Contractions: Strong contractions of the stomach usually associated with a desire for food.

Hydrocephalus: A pathologic condition characterized by an abnormal accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid, usually under increased pressure, within the cranial vault and subsequent dilation of the ventricles.

Hypercalcemia: Greater than normal amounts of calcium in the blood, most often resulting from excessive bone release of calcium. Clinically patients with hypercalcemia experience confusion, anorexia, abdominal pain, muscle pain and weakness. Extremely high levels of blood calcium may result in coma, shock, kidney failure and death.

Hypertension: Elevated blood pressure persistently exceeding 140/90 mm Hg. The incidence of hypertension is higher in men than in women and is twice as great in African-Americans as in Caucasians. Inadequate blood supply to the coronary arteries may cause angina or myocardial infarction.

Hypocalcaemia: A deficiency of calcium in the serum that may be caused by hypoparathyroidism, vitamin D deficiency, kidney failure, acute pancreatitis, or inadequate amounts of plasma magnesium and protein. It involves a corrected serum calcium concentration less than 8.8 mg/dL or an ionized calcium concentration less than 4.8 mg/dL. In the elderly serum calcium rates can decrease for many reasons including decreased intake of dairy products, lower albumin levels and decreased vitamin D intake.

Hypoglycemia: A abnormally low blood glucose (sugar) level that leads to symptoms of sympathetic nervous system stimulation or central nervous system dysfunction. Causes include alcohol, end-stage liver or renal disease and insulin. Treatment may involve oral intake of sugar products, like fruit juice.

Hypotension: An abnormally low blood pressure, usually defined as lower than 90/60, but is more dependent on symptoms, such as dizziness, lethargy and fatigue.

I and O: Abbreviation for intake and output. Intake and output is frequently tracked for the elderly, especially
those in long term care facilities who may be a risk for dehydration.

Ibuprofen: A nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agent.

Idopathic Disease: A disease that develops without an apparent or known cause.

Ileum: The lower-third distal portion of the small intestine, extending from the jejunum to the cecum.

Ileus: An obstruction of the intestines.

Immune: Being protected against infective or allergic diseases by a system of antibody molecules and related resistance factors.

Immunocompromised: Pertaining to an immune response that has been weakened by a disease of an immunosuppressive agent.

Inactive Colon: Hypotonicity of the bowel that results in decreased contractions and propulsive movements and a delay in the normal 12-hour transit time of luminal contents from the cecum to the anus.

Incidence: The number of times an event occurs.

Incident Report: A document (usually confidential), describing any accident or deviation from policies or orders involving a patient, employee, visitor, or study on the premises of a health care facility.

Incompetency: Legal status of a person declared to be unable to provide for his or her own needs and protection proved in a court hearing.

Incomplete Fracture: A bone break in which the crack in the osseous tissue does not completely traverse the width of the affected bone but may angle off in one or more directions.

Incontinence: The inability to control urination or defecation. Urinary incontinence may be caused by anatomic, physiologic, or pathologic factors. Treatment depends on the diagnosed cause. Fecal incontinence may result from relaxation of the anal sphincter or disorders of the central nervous system or spinal cord and may be treated by a program of bowel training.

Independence: The state of quality of being independent; autonomy; free of the influence, guidance, or control of a person or a group.

Independent Living Center: Rehabilitation facility in which disabled persons can receive special education and training in the performance of all or most activities of daily living with a particular handicap.

Indication: Reason to prescribe a medication or perform a treatment.

Induration: Hardening of a tissue, particularly the skin, caused by edema, inflammation, or infiltration by a neoplasm.

Infection: The invasion of the body by pathogenic microorganisms that reproduce and multiply, causing disease by local cellular injury, secretion of a toxin, or antigen-antibody reaction in the host.

Infection Control: Hospital or other health facility effort to minimize the risk of spreading of nosocomial or community-acquired infections to patients or members of the staff.

Informed Consent: Permission obtained from a patient to perform a specific test or procedure. Informed consent is required before performing most invasive procedures and before admitting a patient to a research study. Although not legally necessary, the consent is usually in writing.  If a document is used, it must be written in a language understood by the patient and signed by the patient and at least one witness.

Ingestion: Oral taking of substances into the body. The term is generally applied to both nutrients and medications.

Innervation: The distribution or supply of nerve fibers or nerve impulses to a body part.

Insidious: Describing a development that is gradual, subtle, or imperceptible.

Insulin: A naturally occurring polypeptide hormone secreted by the beta cells of the Islets of Langerhans in the pancreas in response to increased levels of glucose in the blood as well as the parasympathetic nervous system. The hormone acts to regulate the metabolism of glucose and the processes necessary for the intermediary metabolism of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. Insulin lowers blood glucose levels and promotes transport and entry of glucose into the muscle cells and other tissue. Inadequate secretion of insulin causes elevated blood glucose and lipid levels, and ketonemia, as well as the characteristic signs of diabetes mellitus, including increased desire to eat, excessive thirst, increased urination, and eventually lethargy and weight loss. Uncorrected severe deficiency of insulin is incompatible with life. Normal findings of insulin assay in adults are
levels of 5 to 24 p.mU/ml.

Insulin Shock: A condition of hypoglycemic shock caused by an overdose of insulin, decreased intake of food, or excessive exercise.

Intermediate Care: A unit where patients are kept who do not require intensive care but who are not yet ready to be kept in a regular medical-surgical unit.

Internal Bleeding: Any hemorrhage from an internal organ or tissue, such as intraperitoneal bleeding into the peritoneal cavity or intestinal bleeding into the bowel.

Interrogatories: A series of written questions submitted to a witness or other person having information of interest to the court. The answers are transcribed and are sworn to under oath. Interrogatories are used during the pretrial period as a means of discovery.

Intervertebral Disk: One of the fibrous, broad, and flattened disks found between adjacent spinal vertebrae, except the axis and the atlas. The disks vary in size, shape, thickness, and number, depending on the location in the back and on the particular vertebrae they separate.

Intestinal Flora: The natural bacterial content of the inside of the digestive tract.

Intestinal Obstruction: Any obstruction that results in failure of the contents of the intestine to progress through the lumen of the bowel.

Intubation: Passage of a tube into a body aperture, specifically the insertion of a breathing tube through the mouth or nose into the trachea to ensure a patent airway for the delivery of anesthetic gases and oxygen or both.

Invasion of Privacy: The violation of another person’s right to be left alone and free of unwarranted publicity and intrusion.

Ipecac: An emetic. It is prescribed to cause emesis (vomiting) in certain types of poisonings and drug overdoses.

Iron (FE): A common metallic element essential for the synthesis of hemoglobin.

Ischemia: A decreased supply of oxygenated blood to a body part. The condition is often marked by pain and organ dysfunction, as in ischemic heart disease.  An ischemic limb can result in amputation if the blood supply is not restored.