VI Glossary

Acute pain: Pain with limited duration and associated with a specific cause. It usually causes observable responses such as increased pulse, respirations, and blood pressure. The person may also have diaphoresis.

Advance directives: Legal documents including the health care power of attorney (POA) and living will.

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR): Emergency treatment provided when a patient’s blood flow or breathing stops and may involve chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth breathing, electric shocks to restart the heart, breathing tubes to open the airway, or cardiac medications.

Cheyne-Stokes: Irregular respirations associated with approaching death that are observed as gaps in breathing of several seconds and long and labored or quick and shallow inhalation and exhalation.

Chronic pain: Ongoing and persistent pain for longer than six months. It typically does not cause a change in vital signs or diaphoresis.

Cyanotic: A bluish discoloration of the skin.

Diaphoresis: Excessive sweating.

Do-Not-Resuscitate (DNR) order: A medical order that instructs health care professionals to not perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if a patient’s breathing stops or their heart stops beating. A DNR order is only written with permission by the patient (or the patient’s health care power of attorney, if activated).

Dysphagia: Difficulty swallowing that can cause aspiration of liquids and food into one’s lungs and lead to life-threatening pneumonia.

End-of-life care: Term used to describe care provided when death is imminent and life expectancy is limited to a short number of hours or days.

Epiglottis: The anatomical flap that covers the trachea and prevents liquids from entering the lungs when swallowing.

Health Care Power of Attorney (POA): Legal identification of a trusted individual to serve as a decision-maker for health issues when the patient is no longer able to speak for themselves. It is the responsibility of this designated individual to carry out care actions in accordance with the patient’s wishes.

Hospice care: Care provided to patients who are terminally ill when a health care provider has determined they are expected to live six months or less. Hospice provides comfort to the client and supports the family, but curative medical treatments are stopped. It is based on the idea that dying is part of the normal life cycle.

Living will: A legal document that describes the patient’s wishes if they are no longer able to speak for themselves due to injury, illness, or a persistent vegetative state. The living will addresses issues like ventilator support, feeding tube placement, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and intubation.

Macronutrients: Carbohydrates, proteins, and fats that make up most of a person’s diet and provide energy, as well as essential nutrient intake.

Modified diet: Any diet altered to include or exclude certain components. For example, a low-salt diet is an example of a modified diet.

NPO: A common medical abbreviation referring to “nothing by mouth.”

Osteoarthritis: A type of arthritis causing inflammation or swelling of the joints due to daily wear and tear on the body.

Pain: An unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with, or resembling that associated with, actual or potential tissue damage.

Postmortem care: Care provided after death has occurred through transfer to a morgue or funeral provider.

Quality of life: The degree to which an individual is healthy, comfortable, and able to participate in or enjoy life events.


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