Terms A-C

Abuse: Abuse can be physical and mental and generally refers to illegal or improper contact. Physical abuse is generally considered the intentional use of physical force that causes harm or apprehension of harm. Emotional and verbal abuse can occur when a person says or does something humiliating or embarrassing to a resident.

Accredited: Refers to meeting certain private standards that may be in place for a particular profession.

Active Range of Motion (AROM): The ability of an individual to move one’s arms or legs through their range of motion without restriction. After an injury health care providers may test AROM to determine the nature of the injury.

Activities of Daily Living (ADLs): Refers generally to the activities that are done in the normal course of a day such as eating, walking, dressing, grooming and bathing. In a nursing home setting nurse's aides typically assist residents with ADLs depending on their level of dependence. ADL care should be charted in the nurse's flow

Admitting Physician: The doctor that admits a person to a hospital or other healthcare facility.

Advanced Directives: Written instructions telling how a person wants his or her healthcare administered in the event that the person is unable to communicate his/her medical wishes. Also known as a living will.

Advocate: A person or group that supports or protects another person’s rights. There are various advocacy groups in the long-term care setting that help protect the rights of residents in nursing homes or assisted living facilities.

Albumen: Refers to a form of protein found in the human body, the measurement of which can be used to gauge poor nutrition or malnutrition. Albumen levels can be tested in the blood or urine.

Albuterol: Medication prescribed for the treatment of broncho spasms (or breathing problems) in patients with obstructive airway disease, including asthma.

Alzheimer’s Disease: A mental disorder involving the deterioration of mental functions. Named after a German neurologist, this is a progressive mental disease characterized by confusion, memory failure, disorientation, speech disturbances, and sometimes inappropriate behavior. It is the most common form of dementia in the
United States, accounting for some two-thirds of all cases. Although this disease occurs with equal frequency in men and women, the familial risk is four times that of the general population. Diagnostic criteria involve the failure of cognitive functions including memory, use of language, visual/special skills, personality or reasoning

Anemia: Decrease in the hemoglobin of blood to levels below normal. Signs or symptoms may include fatigue, weight loss, dizziness, headaches, confusion or insomnia. Anemia is common in the elderly. Sometimes anemia may be caused by a benign disease or it may be a sign of a chronic illness.

Aneurysm: Localized dilation of an artery that can result from blockage or atherosclerosis. In the elderly, they typically occur at branching points (i.e. terminal aorta) or areas of stress (i.e., popliteal artery). Dilation results from increased pressure within the vessel. Severe harm or death can result from ruptures. Aneurysms may not cause pain until a rupture. High blood pressure (hypertension) is a significant risk factor. Diagnosis can often be made on the basis of  X-rays or CT scans.

Aphagia: Refers generally to the loss of ability to swallow. This can be caused by a variety of things including stroke. Individuals who have this condition may require thickened liquids to reduce the risk of aspiration pneumonia.

Aphasia: Neurologic condition involving a decreased ability to speak.  This can be a complication resulting from a stroke.

Atrial flutter: Rapid, irregular atrial activity between 250 and 300 beats per minute with flutter waves. It can be an indicator of organic heart disease. Among the elderly, common causes are coronary artery disease (CAD) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Atrial fibrillation: A lack of organized atrial activity and irregular timing of the QRS complexes, typically chronic in nature. The condition may cause uncomfortable heart palpitations and chest discomfort because of irregular heart-beats or increase in the heart rate.

Bacteremia (Bacteria in the blood): Bacteria in the blood can also lead to sepsis or septicemia.

Balloon Angioplasty: A method of dilating or opening an obstructed blood vessel by threading a small balloon tipped catheter into the vessel. The balloon is then inflated to compress lesions that may be blocking the blood vessel. This is commonly used in the treatment of arteriosclerotic heart disease.

Barium Enema: A rectal infusion of barium sulfate, a radio- opaque contrast medium which is retained in the lower intestinal tract during diagnostic studies for purposes of assessing obstruction, tumors or other abnormalities.

Barrier Creams: Ointments or creams that are applied to the skin to act as a barrier, to protect the skin from irritants or pathogens. Barrier creams become very important  for patients that are incontinent, as moisture can increase the risk of skin breakdown and infection.

Basal Body Temperature: Temperature of the body taken in the morning either orally or rectally after sleep but before the patient does any significant activity.

Basal Cell Carcinoma: A malignant epithelial cell tumor that begins as a papule and enlarges peripherally. Metastasis is rare but local growth may destroy adjacent tissue. The primary known cause of this cancer is excessive exposure to sun or radiation.

Basal Metabolism: The amount of energy needed to maintain essential body function such as circulation, respiration, and muscle activity. It is typically measured when the subject is awake, had complete rest and has not eaten for 14 to 18 hours.

Baseline: A known value or quantity with which an unknown value or quantities is compared against.

Battered Woman Syndrome (BWS): Repeated episodes of physical assault on a woman by a man with whom she has a relationship, sometimes resulting in serious physical or psychological injury. It is estimated that between one and two million women in the United States are beaten by their husbands every year. Men who
grow up in homes in which their fathers abused their mothers are more likely to beat their wives.

Bed Rest: The restriction of a patient to bed for therapeutic reasons for a prescribed period.

Bedsore: Pressure induced skin breakdown involving the death of living tissue. Bedsores or pressure sores can occur anytime there is unrelieved pressure to an area of the body that has a bony prominence. Bedsores are a common type of injury in a nursing home setting and can be an indication of neglect.

Behavior Disorder: Any group of antisocial behavior patterns occurring primarily in children and adolescents. However, such behavioral disorders are also common with elderly persons who are suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Behavioral management should initially focus on non-pharmacological interventions to control behavior,
as medical management of negative behavior can cause adverse side effects.

Behavioral Management: Refers generally to interventions that are used from a nursing perspective to control
a patient’s negative behavior.

Beneficiary: This term has multiple meanings depending on the context in which it is used. A legal beneficiary can be an individual who is entitled to participate in a recovery because of a familial connection. In the context of insurance or Medicare coverage a beneficiary refers to the person who has the benefit. With respect to Medicare, this may refer to the period of time that a beneficiary may be admitted to a hospital or skilled nursing facility and be entitled to receive Medicare payments.

Benign: A non-cancerous growth and therefore not malignant (see also Benign Neoplasm).

Benzadiazepine: Referring to a class of psychotropic agents which include tranquilizers, anti-anxiety medications, and medications for insomnia. Adverse reactions to Benzadiazepines can include drowsiness, ataxia, and paradoxical increase in aggression and/or hostilities.

Binet Age: Derived from the French psychologist, this measures the mental age of an individual as determined by the Binet-Simon test.

Biologic Half Life: The time required for the body to eliminate half of an administered dose of any substance by regular physiologic processes. This is also known as the metabolic half life.

Biopsy: The removal of a small piece of living tissue from an organ or other part of the body from microscopic examination to confirm a diagnosis or prognosis.

Bipolar Disorder: A major mental disorder characterized by episodes of mania and depression or mixed moods. Characteristics of a manic phase involve excessive emotional displays such as excitement or elation. Causes of the disorder are multiple in complex often involving biologic, psychological, interpersonal, and cultural factors.

Blood Clot: A semi-solid mass, the final result of a clotting process in the blood within seconds after an injury platelets clump at the site to prevent blood flow.

Blood Creatinine Test: Tests that measures the amount of creatinine in the blood in order to diagnose impaired renal function. Elevated creatinine levels suggest a chronic disease process.

Blood Glucose Level: The amount of glucose found in the blood stream, usually about 170 to 150 mgs/dl after an overnight fast. Significant fluctuations in blood glucose levels can be an indication of diabetes or pancreatic cancer.

Blood Sugar: A group of closely related substances such as glucose and fructose that are normal constituents of the blood and are essential for cellular metabolism.

Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN): A measure of the amount of urea in the blood. Urea forms in the liver as an end product of protein metabolism and circulates in the blood. Urea is then excreted through the kidneys and urine. The BUN level determined by a blood test is directly related to the metabolic function of the liver and the
excretion function of the kidney. Normal findings range from 10 to 20 for adults (in mg/dl). In the elderly, BUN levels may be slightly higher than the normal range.

Board Certification: A process by which a physician or other specialist is certified by a given specialty or Board. For example, certification is awarded by a 23-member board of the American Board of Medical Specialties upon the completion of accredited training and examinations. Experts who testify at trial are frequently Board certified
in their specialties.

Bone Density: Generally refers to the thickness or strength of a particular bone. There are several methods of determining bone density which may not be apparent from a plain film Xray.

Bone Marrow: Semi-liquid tissue filling the space in cancelous bone. Bone marrow produces hemoglobin for the blood.

Bowel Incontinence: Generally referring to the inability to control one’s bowels or fecal elimination.

Bowel Management or Training: Refers generally to a nursing intervention to establish regular elimination of feces by reflex conditioning. Generally, a patient’s bowel habits are assessed and the necessity of developing a program to induce evacuation at the same time each day or every other day is implemented. Exercises to
strengthen abdominal muscles can be employed. A patient is generally instructed to recognize and respond properly to signals indicating a full bowel.

Brain Death: An irreversible form of unconsciousness characterized by a complete loss of brain function, although the heart may continue to beat.

Bradycardia: A condition referring to an abnormally slow heart beat. Typically less than 60 beats per minute.

Breast Cancer: Cancer of the breast more often affecting woman. About half of all breast cancer develops in women over 65 years old.

Bridging: A nursing technique of positioning a patient so that bony prominences are free of pressure on the mattress by using pads, bolsters or foam rubber.

Bromptom's Cocktail: An analgesic solution containing alcohol, morphine or heroin. The cocktail is administered in the control of pain for the terminally ill patient.

Bronchitis: An acute viral infection of the lower respiratory tract. It occurs primarily in infants.

Bundle Branch: A segment of the network of fibers transmitting electrical impulses within the ventricles of the heart.

Burden of Proof: Refers generally to the burden (or obligation) that one party has, usually the Plaintiff, to prove their case with evidence that outweighs the evidence presented by the opposing party. The burden of proof in a civil case is a preponderance of the evidence, which is also known as the greater weight of the evidence. If the Plaintiff has presented proof that is more persuasive than Defendant’s proof, even slightly more persuasive (mathematically 51 % vs 49%) he has met his burden. In a criminal trial the burden is typically beyond a reasonable doubt, which is a much harder burden to meet. Legal definitions may vary between states.

Burn: Any injury caused to the tissue of the body by objects or flames, electricity, chemicals or radiation. Treatment of burns include pain relief, prevention of infection, regulation of body temperature, maintenance of the balance and body fluids and electrolytes, and good nutrition. Severe burns can cause shock which should be treated before the wound. Burns are sometimes classified as first, second, third and fourth degree burns.

Bursitis: Inflammation of the bursa, the connective tissue surrounding a joint. Bursitis can be precipitated by arthritis, infection, an injury or excessive exercise. The usual symptom is severe pain of the affected joint, particularly on movement.

Byte: The amount of memory required to include one character of information, i.e. letter, number or symbol in a computer system.

Calcium (an alkaline metal element): Calcium is the fifth most abundant element in the human body and is mainly present in bone. The body requires calcium ions for the transmission of nerve impulses, muscle contractions, blood coagulation, and cardiac functions. Only about one-third of calcium ingested by humans is actually absorbed by the body, primarily in the small bowel.

Callous Ulcer: An ulcer with a hard indurated base and thick inelas margins. Such an ulcer generally lacks blood supply and is frequently associated with edema of the legs.

Calorie: The amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one gram of water one degree celsius at a pressure of one atmosphere.

Cancer: A neoplasm characterized by uncontrolled growth of anaplastic cells that tend to invade surrounding tissue and metastasize (spread) to other body sites. Cancer is generally distinguished by the nature, site or clinical course of the lesion. Cancer is attributable to both genetic and environmental factors. More than 80% of cancer cases are attributable to cigarette smoking. An excessive rate of malignant tumors in organ transplantation recipients after immuno suppressive therapy suggests that the immune system plays a vital role in controlling the proliferation of cancer cells. Cancer is second only to heart disease as the leading cause death in the United States, and is also a leading cause of death for children between 3 and 14 years old. In the United States common sites for the development of malignant cancer tumors include the skin, lung, prostate, breast and colon.
Surgery remains the major form of treatment, but radiation is widely used as a preoperative or primary therapy, along with chemotherapy.

Cancer Checkup: A cancer-related checkup is recommended every three years for people aged 20 to 40, and for every year for people aged 40 and older. Examination should include health counseling depending on the person’s age, examination of cancer of thyroid or cavity, skin, lymph nodes, intestines, and ovaries. The American Cancer Society recommends that both the prostate specific antigen test (PSA), and the digital rectal examination be offered annually to men beginning at age 50.

C-Diff: A contagious bacterial ailment that can cause frequent diarrhea.
Cannabis: A psychoactive herb derived from the flowering tops of hemp plants. It has been used in the treatment of glaucoma as well as an anti-nausea medication in cancer patients on chemotherapy. Cannabis in high doses may impair the ability to perform motor tasks and will also hinder more complex action such as driving or flying. Cannabis may also enhance the non-dormant senses of touch, taste and smell. This drug also increases the heart rate and systolic blood pressure. Research indicates that cannabis may be therapeutic as an anti-convulsent and in helping reduce intraocular pressure associated with glaucoma.

Capacity: Generally referring to the ability to hold, retain or absorb information. It can also refer to the volume or potential volume of a liquid, solid or gas.

Capillary: One of the many microscopic blood vessels in the human body joining arterials and venals. Blood and tissue fluids exchange various substances across capillary walls.

Capillary Refilling: The process whereby blood returns to a portion of the capillary system after its blood supply has been interrupted briefly. Capillary refilling can be a simple test used to determine blood flow to the skin. It is tested by pressing firmly on a fingernail and estimating the time required for blood to return after pressure is released. In a normal person with good cardiac output and digital profusion, capillary refilling should take less than three seconds. A time of five seconds or more is considered abnormal.

Capitation: A payment method for healthcare services. The Physician, Hospital or other healthcare provider is paid a contracted rate for each member of a group. The agreed contractual rates are usually adjusted for age, gender, illness or regional differences.

Captain of the Ship Doctrine: An historical medical legal principle that the physician is ultimately responsible for all patient care activities under his supervision and may be sued for the negligence or malpractice of staff working under him.

Carbohydrate: Various groups of organic compounds specifically saccharine starch, cellulose and glycogen that constitute the main source of energy for body function, particularly brain function. Current dietary goals and recommendations for the United States suggest that carbohydrates provide 55%-60% of total calorie intake. Symptoms of carbohydrate deficiency can include, fatigue, depression, breakdown of essential body proteins and electrolyte imbalances.

Carbon: A non-metallic element that is essential to various chemical mechanisms of the body including metabolic processes. The element also acts a component of carbohydrates, amino acids, triglycerides and many other compounds.

Carcinoma: A malignant epithelial neoplasm that tends to invade surrounding tissue and metastasize in the other areas of the body, also known as cancer.

Cardiac: Relating to the heart or heart ailments.

Cardiac Arrest: Sudden stoppage of the heart, also known as a heart attack or myocardial infarction. It is usually precipitated by ventricular fibrillation or ventricular asystole. When cardiac arrest occurs, delivery of oxygen and removal of carbon dioxide stop and tissue cell metabolism becomes anaerobic. Immediate initiation of cardio pulmonary resuscitation is required to prevent heart, lung, kidney and brain damage and death.

Cardiac Arrhythmia: An abnormal cardiac rate or rhythm. The condition is caused by a failure of the sinus node to maintain its pacemaker function or by a defect in the electrical conduction system. Examples of arrhythmia include bradycardia, extra systole, heart block, and tachycardia.

Cardiac Catheterization: The diagnostic procedure in which a catheter is introduced through an incision into a large vein in the arm or leg and threaded through the circulatory system of the heart. Many conditions can be accurately identified with catheterization, including congenital heart disease, stenosis and valvular incompetence. Among the risks of the procedure are infection, blood clots and cardiac arrhythmia.

Cardiac Decompensation: A condition of congestive heart failure in which the heart is unable to adequately maintain cellular profusion in all parts of the body without assistance. Causes may include heart attack, increased workload, infection, toxin, or defective heart valve.

Cardiac Murmur: An abnormal sound heard during auscultation of the heart caused by altered blood flow into a chamber or through a valve.

Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR): A basic emergency procedure for life support consisting of artificial respiration and manual external cardiac massage. It is used in cases of heart attack to reestablish blood flow to the body. During heart compressions, blood flow is forced into systemic and pulmonary circulation and venus blood refills the heart when the compression is released.

Caregiver: One who contributes to the benefits of medical, social, economic or environmental resources to a dependent or partially dependent individual.

Care Plan: In the nursing home setting, care plans are used to plan for the care needs of the patient. The care plan follows a comprehensive nursing assessment that determines the patient’s medical limitations and condition, and the necessary assistance he or she may require to thrive in their long-term care environment. Care plans are
also used in assisted living facilities and may be referred to as service plans.

Carnitine: A substance found in skeletal and cardiac muscles and certain other tissues that functions as a carrier of fatty acids across membranes of the mitochondria. This is used therapeutically in treating angina.

Carotid Bruit: A murmur heard over the carotid artery in the neck suggesting arterial narrowing, usually secondary to atherosclerosis. A stroke can result if the narrowing is severe and the condition is untreated.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: A commonly painful disorder of the wrist and hand caused by compression on the median nerve between the inelastic carpal ligament and other structures within the carpal tunnel. It is often seen in cumulative wrist trauma, but can also result from tumor or rheumatoid arthritis. The median nerve innervates the palm and the radial side of the hand. Treatment may involve surgery or the use of a lightweight wrist splint.

Cataract: An abnormal progressive condition of the lens of the eye characterized by loss of transparency and vision. Most cataracts are caused by degenerative changes and occur after fifty years of age.

Case Manager: A person who arranges necessary healthcare services for a patient or group of patients. The case manager could be any type of healthcare provider but is typically a nurse, doctor or other professional directly connected with the patient’s care.

Catastrophic Limit: In legal terms this may refer to the highest amount of money that a person would be required to pay out of his or her own pocket for a certain period of time based on their applicable health coverage.

Catheter: A hollow flexible tube that is inserted into a vessel or cavity of the body to withdraw or insert fluids, and sometimes used to visualize a vessel or cavity.

Causation: In law, this term describes the requirement to connect an act of negligence with an injury or adverse outcome suffered by the Plaintiff. In any malpractice lawsuit alleging injury, one must prove that it was the negligence of the healthcare provider that caused the injury at issue.

Cellulite: A diffuse acute infection of the skin and subcutaneous tissue usually involving redness, pain and swelling. It is occasionally associated with fever, malaise, chills or headaches.

Central Nervous System: One of two main divisions of the nervous system consisting of the brain and spinal cord. The system processes information to and from the peripheral nervous system and is the body’s main method of controlling various functions and sensations such as sleep, sexual activity, muscular movement, hunger, thirst, memory and emotions.

Cerebellum: Part of the brain located in the posterior cranial fossa behind the brain stem. Its primary function is to coordinate voluntary muscular activity.

Cerebral Aneurysm: Abnormal localized dilation of a cerebral artery. It is most commonly the result of congenital weakness of an artery wall but can also be caused by infection, trauma or neoplasms.

Cerebral Cortex: A layer of the neurons and synapses (grey matter) on the surface of the cerebral hemispheres. It integrates higher mental functions, general movement, perception, and behavioral reactions.

Cerebral Hemorrhage: A hemorrhage from a blood vessel in the brain. Cerebral hemorrhages are classified by location (subarachnoid, extradural, subdural), the kind of vessel involved (arterial, venous, capillary) and origin (traumatic, degenerative). Bleeding may lead to displacement or destruction of brain tissue.

Cerebrum: The largest and upper most section of the brain divided by a longitudinal fissure and to the left and right hemispheres. The cerebrum performs sensory functions, motor functions, and less easily defined integration functions associated with various mental activities.

Certified Nurse Aide: Typically, an employee of a long-term care facility who is not a licensed nurse, but who has received some limited training as it relates to providing nursing care.

Cervical: Referring to the neck, or in gynecology, referring to the cervix.

Cervical Cancer: Third most common gynecologic malignancy after endometrial cancer and ovarian cancer. It can occur in woman of all ages, but peak incidence occurs in patients in their 40s and 50s. Human papilloma virus (HPV) is thought to play a role in the development of this cancer.

Cervical Sprain/Strain: Refers generally to an injury to the neck, usually associated with trauma or flexion-extension injuries, as when the neck is thrown backwards in a rear end collision. Also know as whiplash or soft tissue injury.

Charge Nurse: A nurse assigned to manage the operation of a patient wing or hall for a particular shift. Responsibilities may include staffing, admissions, discharge, and coordination of care.

Cholesterol: A waxy lipid soluble compound found in animal tissues. It is an integral component of every cell in the body as it facilitates absorption and transport of fatty acids. Increased levels of low density lipoprotein cholesterol may be associated with heart disease whereas high levels of high density lipoprotein cholesterol appear to lower a person’s risk for heart disease.

Chronic: Relating to a long period of time. Chronic disease is one that persists over a long period of time as compared to the course of an acute disease which arises quickly. Symptoms of chronic diseases are sometimes less severe than those of acute diseases and may be progressive in nature. Examples of chronic disease include diabetes mellitis, emphysema and arthritis.

Circumstantial Evidence: In legal terms this is evidence not based on actual observation or knowledge.

Coccyx: The bone jointed to the sacrum by a disk of fibrocartilage at the base of the vertebral column. In humans, the coccyx becomes fused with the sacrum by the sixth decade of life. Because the coccyx area is subject to pressure, it is a frequent location for skin breakdown for patients who have reduced mobility.

Coffee-Ground Vomitus: Dark brown vomitus the color and consistency of coffee grounds, typically composed of gastric juices and old blood which can be indicative of an upper GI bleed.

Cognitive Function: An intellectual process by which one becomes aware of, perceives, or comprehends ideas. Upon admission to any long-term care facility cognitive function is generally assessed to determine a patient’s needs.

Cognitive Therapy: Any of the various methods of treating mental and emotional disorders that help a person change attitudes, perceptions and patterns of thinking from rationale to realistic thoughts about self and environment. Therapeutic approaches include behavior therapy, gestalt therapy, and transactional analysis.

Colitis: An inflammation of the large intestine. It can be associated with diarrhea, bleeding, and ulceration of the mucosa of the intestine. Weight loss and pain can be significant.

Collagen: A fibrous insoluble protein consisting of bundles of tiny reticular fibers that come to form the white glistening inelastic of the tendons, the ligaments and the fascia. It is present in connective tissues including skin, bone, ligaments, and cartilage. Advanced age can bring about a loss of collagen to the skin which can increase one’s risk for skin breakdown.

Colorectal Cancer: A malignant neoplastic disease of the large intestine characterized by change in bowel habits and the passage of blood.

Colostomy: Surgical creation of an artificial anus on the abdomen wall by incising the colon and drawing it out to the surface. A temporary colostomy may be done to divert feces after surgery. Antibiotics, usually neomycin, is prescribed to reduce the bacterial count in the bowel and bowel cleansing methods are used. Failure to keep a colostomy bag and its components clean can lead to infection.

Communicable Disease: Any disease transmitted from one person or animal to another.

Community Health Nursing: A field of nursing that is a blend of primary healthcare and nursing practice with public health nursing. The community health nurse conducts a continuing and comprehensive practice that is preventive, curative and rehabilitative in focus.

Community Practice Standard: Although the legal definition may vary from state to state, this refers generally to the standard of conduct one would expect from a reasonably prudent health care provider under the same or similar standards. Where a health care provider fails to comply with a community practice standard, this constitutes a breach in the standard of care that may give rise to legal liability.

Compartment Syndrome: A common limb-threatening complication associated with trauma. The swelling of an injured muscle within a confining structure--either the membranous compartment containing the muscle, or a cast or wound dressing-- increases tissue pressure and blocks normal perfusion, resulting in tissue death. Extreme pain in the affected extremity can be a symptom of this condition. Treatment involves surgical opening of the compartment, or removal of the confining structure.

Complaint: In law a complaint refers to the legal document that begins a lawsuit. It generally contains a statement of the facts and legal allegations forming the claim against a Defendant. Different states have different rules as to how detailed the allegations in a complaint must be.

Comprehensive Assessment: Any individual admitted to a nursing home that receives federal funding must have a comprehensive assessment performed within fourteen days of the resident’s admission. Comprehensive assessment should consider both the patient’s physical and mental condition and assess what services the patient
will need at the facility. The comprehensive assessment will in turn be used to determine the patient’s overall Plan of Care that will be implemented by the nursing staff.

CT Scan: A radiographic technique that produces an image of a detailed cross section of tissue that may not be visible on plain film X-ray.

Concurrent Infection: A condition during which a person has two or more simultaneous infections.

Constipation: Difficulty in passing stool or incomplete or infrequent passage of stools. There are many causes of constipation both organic and functional. Typical causes include intestinal obstruction, diverticulitis, dehydration and tumors. Functional impairment of the colon may occur in elderly or bedridden patients who fail to respond to the urge to defecate.

Constitution: The general body health of an individual expressed by the person’s physical and mental abilities to function adequately in his environment.

Contributory Negligence: Negligence on behalf of the party bringing the lawsuit (Plaintiff) which contributes to the ultimate harm or injury. Contributory negligence rules vary from state to state, but in pure contributory negligence states any negligence on behalf of the Plaintiff that causally contributes to the harm, can create a total bar to recovery. In comparative negligence states the percentage of fault attributed to the Plaintiff may limit his recovery by the percentage of negligence assigned by the Jury.  New York is a comparative negligence state.

Counterclaim: In law this refers to a claim filed by the Defendant in response to the claim filed first by the Plaintiff.

Coumadin: A trademark for the anti-coagulant Warfarin Sodium. Coumadin may be given after a stroke to thin blood and allow adequate blood circulation. Adverse side effects can include hemorrhage or uncontrolled bleeding.

Creatine: An important nitrogenous compound produced by metabolic processes in the body. Combined with phosphorus it forms high energy phosphate. Creatine phosphate may increase in the blood levels when muscle damage has occurred.

Creatinine: A substance formed from the metabolism of creatine commonly found in blood, urine and muscle tissue. It is measured in blood and urine tests as an indicator or kidney function. Normal adult levels of creatine are .5 to 1.1 mg/dl for females and .6 to 1.2 mg/dl for males. These numbers decrease in the elderly population because of smaller muscle mass.

Cyanosis: A bluish discoloration of the skin and mucous membranes caused by lack of oxygen in the blood or structural defect in the hemoglobin molecule.

Cystitis: An inflammatory condition of the urinary bladder and urethra, characterized by pain, urgency, frequency of urination and hematuria (blood and urine).