Skip to Main Content

NorQuest Health Dictionary

A research guide focused on medical terminology


Organ responsible for hearing and balance that is part of the sensory system. The ear collects sound waves, changes these into electrical impulses, and sends the signals to the brain. FOCC 1000 Unit C2

Eardrum/Tympanic membrane

A thin membrane found between the outer and middle ear that vibrates when sound waves hit it. Damage to the eardrum can result in a loss of hearing ability. FOCC 1000 Unit C2

Early-onset dementia

Describes dementia that causes cognitive impairment early in adulthood. Early-onset dementia can occur in a person who is as young as thirty years old. SCSF 1000 Unit F2


An accumulation of excess fluid in body tissue, causing swelling and tight skin. When edema of a limb is noted, it is important to check if it is present in the opposite limb as well. PCCA 1000 Unit A3


A build-up of extra fluid in tissue that causes swelling to the area affected. It is important to report an observation of edema to your supervisor. FOCC 1000 Unit C2

Effective communication

Communication that results in understanding. Occurs when verbal and non-verbal communication sends the same message. Effective communication is necessary when working as part of a team in the healthcare setting. PCCA 1000 Unit A1


Ability to perform effectively without using extra energy. When the body ages, body systems slow down due to decreased efficiency. FOCC 1000 Unit C3


Circular massaging strokes with the hands starting from the buttocks, moving hands on either side of the spine up to the shoulders, across the shoulders, and back down along the sides of the back to the buttocks. Perform effleurage 8-10 times during a back rub. BCND 1000 Unit D4

Egg carton foam pad

A foam pad that is placed on top of the regular mattress and used to relieve pressure on bony prominences. It is called an "egg carton" because it is shaped like the bottom of an egg carton. An egg carton foam pad is often used in the hospital setting. PCCA 1000 Unit A3


The ability to return to its original shape after being stretched. Decreased elasticity of arteries affects the blood flow. FOCC 1000 Unit C3

Elastic stockings/compression stockings

Stockings that provide sustained and even pressure over the entire surface of the feet and legs to assist blood flow back to the heart. Stockings must be cared for properly or they will not do what they are designed for. BCND 1000 Unit D6

Electronic health record

A client's personal and medical information (chart) in an electronic form on a computer. The electronic health record is a confidential record and must be protected for privacy. BCND 1000 Unit D1

Electronic sphygmomanometer

An electronic instrument with a digital readout that is used to take a blood pressure reading. There are many different types of electronic sphygmomanometers and all have different operating steps. SCAE 1000 Unit E3


One of the parts that makes up something, the basic components. The basic elements of communication are the sender, message, receiver, and feedback. PCCA 1000 Unit A1


Discharging urine from the bladder or feces from the bowel. It is important for the HCA to know the elimination needs of a client, such as whether or not she wears an incontinent brief. BCND 1000 Unit D1


Very thin. People who suffer with a starvation disorder can become emaciated. BCND 1000 Unit D1


To flow out of. Nerves emanate from the brain to various areas of the body. FOCC 1000 Unit C2


A process performed to preserve a body after death. The Hindu religion does not allow embalming to take place after death. SCSF 1000 Unit F3


Firmly in place as part of a whole; requiring effort to be changed or removed. Attitudes are deeply embedded in our personalities. FOCC 1000 Unit C3


A blood clot that has broken loose and travels through the blood vessels until it becomes lodged somewhere in the body. An embolus can obstruct or stop the circulation. BCND 1000 Unit D6

Emery board

A file used for fingernails and toenails. Use an emery board to smooth rough edges of nails when doing nail care. BCND 1000 Unit D5


The product of vomiting or throwing up gastric (stomach) contents. Emesis is considered a body fluid and should be handled using routine practices. PCCA 1000 Unit A2

Emotional wellness

This is part of mental health; people experience different degrees of emotion depending on their situation. Emotional wellness includes managing stress, accepting personal limitations, and recognizing and accepting feelings. RRHB 1000 Unit B1


Imagining what another person is feeling or experiencing in a situation, so you can relate to them. I use empathy when I attempt to comfort a co-worker who has lost a parent by trying to imagine what they are feeling and experiencing. PCCA 1000 Unit A1


Loss of elasticity and enlargement of the air sacs in the lungs causing poor exchange of oxygen and a build-up of carbon dioxide in the blood. The most common cause of emphysema is smoking. FOCC 1000 Unit C4

Employment Standards Code

Enforced by Alberta, the Code protects the right to minimum employment standards. Standards include minimum wage, hours of work, and hours of rest. RRHB 1000 Unit B2

Employment Standards Regulations

Enforced by Alberta, the Regulations protect the right to minimum employment standards in the workplace. Standards include minimum wage, hours of work, and hours of rest. RRHB 1000 Unit B2


Covered with dried discharge. A respiratory tract infection can result in the nasal passages becoming encrusted with mucus drainage. BCND 1000 Unit D1

Endocrine system

A group of organs responsible for regulating body activities such as metabolism and temperature. Two important glands of the endocrine system are the hypothalamus gland and the pituitary gland. FOCC 1000 Unit C2


Ability to cope with activity without becoming tired and feeling weak. Increased tiredness and lack of endurance are abnormal symptoms of the musculoskeletal system. FOCC 1000 Unit C2


The introduction of liquids or oils into the rectum or lower colon that stimulate a bowel movement. An enema is a treatment that is sometimes used to relieve constipation. SCAE 1000 Unit E6


To add a quality to something to make it better. Ensure that you demonstrate personal qualities that will enhance the well-being of the client. RRHB 1000 Unit B2

Enlarged prostate

The prostate becomes larger and tightens around the urethra resulting in increased frequency of voiding and inability to completely empty the bladder. An enlarged prostate can lead to bladder infections. FOCC 1000 Unit C4

Enteral nutrition/tube feeding

The process of feeding a client by giving liquid formula containing nutrients through a feeding tube inserted into the stomach or small intestine. Enteral nutrition benefits clients who cannot swallow due to injury or disease. SCAE 1000 Unit E5


Having an interest in and a feeling of excitement towards something. Many elderly people try new things with enthusiasm. FOCC 1000 Unit C3

Environmental wellness

Refers to living in an environment that promotes, supports, or enhances a person's well-being. Promoting environmental wellness may mean choosing to live in a pet-free area because of allergies to animals. RRHB 1000 Unit B1


A protein that causes a substance to change or break down into smaller parts. Food is broken down in the ileum by digestive juices called enzymes. SCAE 1000 Unit E1


Top or outer layer of the skin. The epidermis contains living and dead cells. FOCC 1000 Unit C2


A small structure that covers the trachea when swallowing to prevent food or liquids from entering the lungs. The epiglottis prevents the inhaling of food or fluids into the lungs. FOCC 1000 Unit C2


A nervous system disorder that causes seizures. A person with Down syndrome is more likely than the general population to develop epilepsy as he ages. SCSF 1000 Unit F1

Epithelial tissue

Covers the outer body and body cavities, such as nose and mouth, and lines some internal body organs, such as the stomach. Epithelial tissue can be found covering the outer body and covering some internal body tissues. FOCC 1000 Unit C2


Straight up or upright. Standing tall with a straight back. An erect and upright body posture will show that a person feels good about himself. PCCA 1000 Unit A1

Erik Erickson's stage theory

Based on the belief that every stage of life has its own challenges that must be met before moving on to the next stage. Erickson believed that if a challenge is not met, the growth of the individual is altered or more difficult to achieve. FOCC 1000 Unit C3


Irregular, out of the ordinary. Seizures can cause jerky, erratic movements of the limbs due to muscle spasms. FOCC 1000 Unit C4


A mistake. A medication error needs to be reported immediately, so the client can receive any necessary follow-up care as quickly as possible. SCAE 1000 Unit E6


A mistake that is made. When documenting, it is important to know how to correct an error properly. BCND 1000 Unit D1


Red blood cells. Erythrocytes carry oxygen to the cells and carry carbon dioxide away from the cells. FOCC 1000 Unit C2


A tube-shaped organ that brings food from the mouth to the stomach. The esophagus moves food down to the stomach using peristalsis. FOCC 1000 Unit C2


A hormone involved in female development, reproduction, and body functioning. When estrogen in the female body becomes too low the menstrual cycle stops. FOCC 1000 Unit C4


Chemical reactions that can damage a surface and make it appear and feel rough. Leaving cleaners on a surface may cause etching to occur. SCSF 1000 Unit F5

Ethical dilemmas

Ethical dilemmas occur when you are faced with making a choice between two actions, neither of which seems good. Ethical dilemmas can occur when dealing with clients who have values that are different from yours. PCCA 1000 Unit A4


Principles of behaviour, based on morals, that guide the choices we make and the actions we take. Health care aides have a code of ethics that guide their practice. PCCA 1000 Unit A4


People from the same nation, sharing similar language, values, and beliefs, are considered to be from the same ethnic origin. It is important to learn your client's ethnic background when providing care. PCCA 1000 Unit A4


A speech or tribute about a deceased person. A Protestant funeral is planned with the family and they choose the music, readings, and eulogy. SCSF 1000 Unit F3

Eustachian tube

A hollow tube connecting the middle ear with the throat that equalizes air pressure on either side of the eardrum. The Eustachian tube will open when you swallow or yawn, allowing air pressure to equalize. FOCC 1000 Unit C2


To assess something, such as a problem-solving plan, and determine its effectiveness. If a plan is made to solve a problem, it is important to evaluate the plan once you have put it into action. RRHB 1000 Unit B3

Evening care/hs care

Skin care, mouth care, toileting, and grooming that are given at bedtime to help a client settle for the night. Giving a back rub to a client during evening care helps the client relax. BCND 1000 Unit D4


A condition in which an area of the skin is damaged and appears raw and red. This may be the result of friction. Observe the skin for redness or excoriation during the bathing procedure. BCND 1000 Unit D4


Fluids and wastes discharged from the body such as urine, feces, and sweat. Excreta odours are those that accompany body wastes such as urine and feces. BCND 1000 Unit D1

Excrete or excretion

To release or remove from the body. The urinary system is responsible for excreting body waste and excess fluid. FOCC 1000 Unit C3


The expulsion of waste products such as urine and stool from the body. Some clients may need to wear a brief because they can no longer control the excretion of urine from their body. PCCA 1000 Unit A2

Excretory products

Waste products that need to be removed from the body to maintain health. Excretory products can be found in urine, feces, and wound drainage. BCND 1000 Unit D7


To increase in size. As the body ages, lung expansion becomes limited. FOCC 1000 Unit C3


Having a large number of skills or amount of knowledge concerning a particular subject. All health-care team members have their own area of expertise and can use their knowledge to help a client reach a goal. RRHB 1000 Unit B3

Expiry date

A date set by the manufacturer that indicates the product must be used before that date. All cans of formula have an expiry date on them, so the formula should not be used after this date. SCAE 1000 Unit E5

The date printed on a package after which time the product should not be administered, but should be safely discarded. Always check the expiry date of a medication before assisting the client to take the medication. SCAE 1000 Unit E6


To straighten out. When extending the elbow, straighten the elbow until resistance is felt or the client feels pain. BCND 1000 Unit D2


On the outside of the body. The condom catheter is an external appliance that reduces the chance of infection. SCAE 1000 Unit E1


To put out or to destroy. Water will extinguish a Class A fire of wood, paper, cloth, and rubber. RRHB 1000 Unit B2

Extracellular fluid

Fluid found in the body that is located outside the cells. Extracellular fluid is found in blood, lymph, and around the cells and tissues. BCND 1000 Unit D7


The arms and legs of a body. Cold pale extremities are a sign of poor blood circulation to the body. FOCC 1000 Unit C2


The organ that sends visual information to the brain. The eye receives light and converts this to an electrical message that is sent to the brain. FOCC 1000 Unit C2

Eye orbit

The bones that form a hollow area in which the eye sits; the eye socket. The eye orbit can be shifted out of place if pressure is applied to one side of an infant's head for long periods of time. SCSF 1000 unit F4