Skip to main content

NorQuest Health Dictionary

A research guide focused on medical terminology

Ileal conduit

A surgical procedure in which the ureters are attached to a piece of small intestine that has been surgically removed. The other end of this small intestine is brought through the abdominal wall so urine from the ureters drains through the abdominal stoma to the outside of the body. Urine will drain continually through the ileal conduit so the abdominal skin around this area must be protected. SCAE 1000 Unit E1

Ileostomy

An ostomy formed from the lower part of the small intestines called the ileum. The ileostomy produces a liquid drainage that flows almost constantly and is very damaging to skin. SCAE 1000 Unit E1

Ileum

The name of one section of the small intestines. The ileum is where food is broken down and mixed with digestive juices so nutrients can be absorbed into the bloodstream. SCAE 1000 Unit E1

Illegible

Something that is written so carelessly that it is not possible to read it. Those who try to read illegible documentation may misunderstand it. BCND 1000 Unit D1

Illicit drugs

A drug that is illegal to sell or buy. Illicit drugs include marijuana, crack cocaine, and heroin. SCSF 1000 unit F4

Immature

Not fully developed or matured yet. An infant's body systems are working, but are immature, at birth. SCSF 1000 unit F4

Immobility

An inability to move a part or parts of the body. Immobility can lead to skin breakdown. PCCA 1000 Unit A3

Immortal/immortality

Ability to live on forever or have eternal life. Buddhists believe in an endless cycle of birth, death, and rebirth; their hope is to achieve immortality. SCSF 1000 Unit F3

Immune/immunity

The body's ability to resist infection and disease. Changes in immunity as we age make the older adult more susceptible to some diseases. FOCC 1000 Unit C2

Immune response

A process in the body that tries to protect the body from disease-causing microorganisms. Your body will have an immune response if it detects an unknown pathogen. PCCA 1000 Unit A2

Immune system

Organs, tissues, and cells that work together to protect the body from infection and disease. Changes in the immune system as we age make the older adult more susceptible to some diseases. FOCC 1000 Unit C2

Immunity

The body's ability to fight off a foreign substance such as a disease-causing microorganism (pathogen). Vaccinations assist your body to develop immunity against certain pathogens. PCCA 1000 Unit A2

Immunizations

A set of vaccines (shots) given through childhood and into adulthood to prevent the development of certain diseases. The public health unit will schedule immunizations for a baby. SCSF 1000 unit F4

Impact

To cause an effect on something. Losing a child to illness may have a negative impact on the growth and development of a mother or father. FOCC 1000 Unit C3

Impaction

Stool in the lower bowel that has accumulated and pressed together to form a hard solid mass. Impaction can cause diarrhea, as liquid stool will flow around the impaction. SCAE 1000 Unit E5

Impairment

A condition that decreases the lifestyle, activity level, or life expectancy of an individual. Each individual has a different physical and emotional response to impairment. FOCC 1000 Unit C4

Functional loss or weakness. An eye exam may reveal that a person has vision changes, and will require prescription glasses to correct the vision impairment. RRHB 1000 Unit B1

Impending

Very close to happening. Some physical signs of impending death include change in breathing patterns, decreased sensation of pain, decreased urine output, and skin becoming cool to the touch. SCSF 1000 Unit F3

Implement

To put into action. When you implement a plan it means that you put the plan into action. RRHB 1000 Unit B3

Impulsive

To act without thinking about the results of the action. Some clients who have had a stroke can exhibit impulsive behaviour. FOCC 1000 Unit C4

Incense

An aromatic substance that smells when burned. Buddhists burn incense at the casket during the funeral to show respect for the deceased. SCSF 1000 Unit F3

Incident

An accident or unusual event. In the health-care setting, if an incident happens there is an incident report form that must be completed. RRHB 1000 Unit B2

Incident report

A form that must be used to report an accident or unexpected event so the incident may be prevented in the future and the quality of client care can be improved. Incident reports must be completed as soon as possible after an event has happened. RRHB 1000 Unit B2

Incontinence

Inability to control the body functions of urinating or defecating. Stress incontinence is the inability to control urination when a stress is put on the abdominal muscles, such as when coughing or sneezing. FOCC 1000 Unit C2

Inability to control the movement of urine or feces (bowel contents) in the body. Incontinence is a common problem in older adults and can cause them emotional stress. PCCA 1000 Unit A2

Incorporate

To add in or combine with something. When planning and preparing meals for a client, remember to incorporate the client's food preferences. SCSF 1000 Unit F5

Independence

Meeting your own needs without the assistance of others. Older people want to maintain their independence as much as possible. PCCA 1000 Unit A1

Indigestion

Upset stomach. Indigestion is an abnormal condition of the digestive system. FOCC 1000 Unit C2

Indirect contact

The transfer of microorganisms from a person to an object (door handles, equipment), and from that object to another person. Door handles are a common place for indirect contact of microorganisms to occur. PCCA 1000 Unit A2

Indwelling catheter

A tube designed to be inserted through the urethra into the bladder. The indwelling catheter stays in place to allow urine to drain into an attached drainage bag. SCAE 1000 Unit E1

Inevitable

Cannot be prevented from happening. Aging is an inevitable process of life. FOCC 1000 Unit C3

Infection

An illness caused by harmful microorganisms getting into the body. With aging, the body becomes more vulnerable to infection. PCCA 1000 Unit A2

Inflammation

Swelling in an area that is irritated. There are medications made to reduce the pain and inflammation of arthritis. SCAE 1000 Unit E6

Infrared beams

A light ray that is invisible to the human eye unless special equipment is used. A tympanic thermometer uses infrared beams to measure the temperature of the tympanic membrane (eardrum). SCAE 1000 Unit E3

Ingest/ingesting

To eat. When an infant starts to crawl and explore his environment, it is important to remove harmful substances that he could ingest. SCSF 1000 unit F4

Inhalers/Inhalation medication

Medications inhaled into the lungs to help the client breathe easily. There are many different types of inhalers with different mechanical ways of delivering the medication into the lungs. SCAE 1000 Unit E6

Inherited

Passed on through genetics from one person to another. Hair loss can be an inherited trait that is passed on from one generation to the next. FOCC 1000 Unit C3

Inner ear

Part of the ear that contains nerve cells for hearing (cochlea) and structures for balance (semicircular canals). The inner ear converts physical vibrations into electrical impulses that are sent to the brain. FOCC 1000 Unit C2

Instillation medications

Medications given by administering them into the eyes or ears. Instillation medications include ophthalmic (eye) and otic (ear) medications. SCAE 1000 Unit E6

Insulin

A hormone released from the pancreas to regulate the glucose level in blood. The disease diabetes is caused by the pancreas not producing or secreting enough insulin. FOCC 1000 Unit C3

Intake

All foods and fluids a client consumes. If only fluid intake is being recorded, remember that any foods that are liquid at room temperature (gelatin, ice cream) should be included as fluid intake. BCND 1000 Unit D1

Intake and Output (I & O)

The foods and fluids a person consumes (intake) and the wastes the person eliminates (output). In a normally functioning body, the intake and output for 24 hours (one full day) will be almost equal. BCND 1000 Unit D1

Integral

When something is necessary or required to achieve completeness. Physical comfort is integral to the complete well-being of a client. PCCA 1000 Unit A3

Integrity

The matching of one's actions with one's words; to be honest and 'mean what you say, say what you mean.' If you tell a client you will return in five minutes, and you do return in five minutes, then you have shown integrity. PCCA 1000 Unit A4

Integrity or Skin integrity

Intact and unbroken. It is important to maintain the integrity of the skin around an ostomy site because the adhesives of the ostomy appliance and the body wastes discharged are very irritating to the skin. SCAE 1000 Unit E1

Integument

The skin that covers our body. The integument is the first line of defence of our body against bacteria. FOCC 1000 Unit C2

Integumentary system

The skin and mucous membranes that cover the body. Two functions of the integumentary system are to protect us from microorganisms and to help regulate body temperature. FOCC 1000 Unit C2

Intellectual wellness

Keeping the mind stimulated so it stays active and alert. Playing cards, reading, or learning new things can maintain intellectual wellness. RRHB 1000 Unit B1

Intelligence quotient (IQ)

A system used to measure a person's ability to think and learn in comparison to others. Intelligence tests are used to determine the IQ of an individual. SCSF 1000 Unit F1

Interdependence

Dependence on each other to meet physical or emotional needs. Example: Mary doesn't drive herself to work due to the high cost of maintaining a vehicle; she depends on a co-worker to drive her and offers to bring him lunch in return. PCCA 1000 Unit A1

Intermittent

A cycle of starting and stopping with breaks in between. Intermittent chest pain caused by activity or stress is known as angina. FOCC 1000 Unit C4

Intermittent tube feeding

A feeding method in which the client is tube fed at specific times of the day and not continuously. The head of the bed must be elevated during intermittent tube feedings and for at least one half-hour after the feeding. SCAE 1000 Unit E5

Interpret/interpreting

To translate or explain something to another person. When caring for a client who speaks a different language, find out if another staff member knows the language and can interpret for you. FOCC 1000 Unit C5

Interpretative communication

A commonly used approach to communicating with a person whose own communication has been affected by dementia. Interpretative communication includes looking for the implied message instead of exact words, using questions to learn what the client wants, using reminiscence, finding ways to meet client needs within the present situation, and validating the client's feelings. SCSF 1000 Unit F2

Interrelated

To be connected and cause an effect on the other. The 10 body systems function at the same time and are interrelated with each other. FOCC 1000 Unit C4

Intervention

An action that is done to change or prevent the current situation from becoming worse. If a medication error is made the nurse must be notified immediately, so she can assess the situation and decide which interventions need to be performed. SCAE 1000 Unit E6

Intervention/interventions

Actions done by one person (HCA) to assist another person (client). An HCA needs to know what interventions are required to provide appropriate client care. BCND 1000 Unit D1

Intolerant

Not willing to accept or allow the beliefs, opinions, and rights of others, particularly in the areas of religion, social practice, employment, and political rights. A caregiver must respect a client's beliefs and opinions or she is acting in an intolerant manner. PCCA 1000 Unit A4

Intracellular fluid

Fluid found within the cells of the body. Intracellular fluid is necessary for the cells to function properly. BCND 1000 Unit D7

Intravenous

A fluid given to a person using the vein for the fluid to enter the body. Intravenous medications are sometimes given to clients who have a severe infection. BCND 1000 Unit D1

Investigation

To examine and gather information that will help to resolve a problem or issue. Specimens are collected and sent to a lab for investigation of a known medical problem or to help determine what is wrong with the client. SCAE 1000 Unit E1

Involuntarily

Not having conscious control over an action or movement. The heart muscles move involuntarily in response to electrical impulses of the body. FOCC 1000 Unit C2

Involuntary

Not done willingly or not voluntary. Not done on purpose. Your first reaction to a message is often involuntary, such as jumping in surprise when you are frightened. PCCA 1000 Unit A1

Irregular/irregularity

Not occurring at regular intervals. When you find the radial pulse, feel if its rhythm is regular or irregular and then measure the rate for a full 60 seconds. SCAE 1000 Unit E3

Irreversible

Not able to be returned back to the original state of health. Conditions that are irreversible include dementias, Parkinson's disease, and AIDS. SCSF 1000 Unit F2

Irreversible cognitive impairment

A permanent impairment of the brain that can be progressive or non-progressive, as a result of certain disease processes or trauma. Examples of irreversible cognitive impairment include dementias (progressive) or acquired brain injury (non-progressive). SCSF 1000 Unit F2

Irritable colon/Irritable bowel syndrome

An overactive large intestine resulting in cramps and diarrhea often triggered by emotional upsets, and diets of irritating and gas-forming foods. Irritable colon can be triggered by foods such as raw vegetables and dried beans. FOCC 1000 Unit C4

Isolation precautions (transmission-based precautions)

Precautions required to control the transmission of pathogens when clients have a known or suspected infectious disease that can be transmitted easily to others. Isolation precautions used when caring for a sick client will depend on the way the microorganism is transmitted. PCCA 1000 Unit A2

IV pole

A tall portable pole on wheels that is used to hang bags of fluids. The IV pole can be used for IV meds, bags of fluids, blood transfusion bags, and tube feeding bags. SCAE 1000 Unit E5