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NorQuest Health Dictionary

A research guide focused on medical terminology

Labia folds

Folds of skin that surround the vaginal area. There are two sets of labia folds surrounding the vaginal area that must be spread and cleaned during peri-care -- labia majora and labia minora. BCND 1000 Unit D3

Laboured breathing

Heavy breathing that uses an increased amount of energy. Laboured breathing and gasping for breath are abnormal. FOCC 1000 Unit C2

Labour-saving techniques

Ways of doing tasks that save time and energy. HCAs need to make use of labour-saving techniques when giving client care. FOCC 1000 Unit C4

Lactose

A sugar found in milk than can only be processed in the body by the enzyme lactase. A client who is lactose intolerant cannot have milk or dairy products because she does not have enough lactase to digest the lactose. SCSF 1000 Unit F5

Language barrier

A situation in which two or more people cannot communicate because they do not speak and understand the same language. It can be frustrating for a client who has a language barrier. FOCC 1000 Unit C5

Large intestine

Lower part of the gastrointestinal tract that receives liquid stool from the small intestines. The large intestines allow water to be absorbed back into the body to produce formed, solid feces. FOCC 1000 Unit C2

Laryngeal spasms

Uncontrollable and involuntary spasms of the part of the respiratory system called the larynx (voice box). Oral suctioning may cause a client to go into laryngeal spasms causing respiratory distress. SCAE 1000 Unit E2

Latch

Attach to. A newborn is breast-feeding properly if he is latched on to the nipple and areola of the mother's breast. SCSF 1000 unit F4

Lateral neglect

The affected person can see either the left side of their environment and body or the right side of their environment and body, but not both. Lateral neglect may occur in clients who have had a stroke. FOCC 1000 Unit C4

Lateral position

Lying on one's side in bed. When repositioning a client in the lateral position, use pillows to keep the body in alignment. PCCA 1000 Unit A3

Lather

Soap bubbles produced by rubbing the soap between the hands or between the hands and surface being cleaned. When washing hair, apply a small amount of shampoo to the hands and rub them together to form a lather. BCND 1000 Unit D5

Law

Rules that people must follow that are set out by a government organization, such as the federal or provincial government. There are provincial laws and regulations that limit which tasks may be performed by the HCA. RRHB 1000 Unit B2

Law/laws

Rules made by government that regulate what you can and cannot do. HCAs must follow the federal and provincial laws that regulate what they can and cannot do. PCCA 1000 Unit A4

Laxative

An oral medication given to stimulate a bowel movement. A laxative is used to relieve constipation. BCND 1000 Unit D1

A medication used to stimulate a bowel movement and relieve constipation. There are many different brands of laxatives available over-the-counter to help relieve constipation. SCSF 1000 Unit F1

LCD display

LCD stands for 'liquid crystal display'. A device that displays readings in digital form on a screen. The LCD display will show the blood pressure reading, with the systolic number on top, the diastolic number below, and, depending on the model, the pulse at the bottom of the display. SCAE 1000 Unit E3

Legacy

To leave something of oneself behind when one dies. Having children is one way to leave a legacy that will live on after you die. FOCC 1000 Unit C3

Leg bag

A urinary drainage bag that is secured onto the leg. The leg bag is connected to one end of a urinary catheter, allowing urine from the catheter to be collected. SCAE 1000 Unit E1

Legible

Information or a message that is clearly written so it is easy to read. Nursing notes written in a client's chart must be legible. PCCA 1000 Unit A1

Legible/legibly

Something that is written with care so that others may read it. When charting, handwriting needs to be legible so others will understand what is written. BCND 1000 Unit D1

Legislation

Laws that can be federally developed or provincially developed. There is legislation that restricts the assignment of certain tasks to HCAs, such as the Government Organization Act (GOA). RRHB 1000 Unit B1

Lens

The part of the eye that focuses light rays onto the retina at the back of the eye. Light rays pass through the pupil to the lens, reflecting an image of what you are seeing to the back of the eye. FOCC 1000 Unit C2

Lethargy

A condition that causes a person to feel tired, with little energy for or interest in activities. Lethargy is one of many signs of depression. SCSF 1000 Unit F1

Leukocytes

White blood cells. Leukocytes help the body to fight off pathogens and to fight infection. FOCC 1000 Unit C2

Leverage

The method of using the body correctly to reduce the amount of energy needed to move an object. When we move objects, we use our larger muscles to do the lifting and to keep the weight of the object close to the body. Large muscles used for leverage include those in the shoulders, upper arms, hips, and thighs. PCCA 1000 Unit A2

Libido

Sexual desire. The libido of an older adult usually remains present in both sexes. FOCC 1000 Unit C3

Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)

A practical nurse licensed by a professional organization. The LPN assists in providing client care and is often part of the support team. RRHB 1000 Unit B3

Life span

The period of time a person is alive, starting at birth and ending with death. Some theories view growth and development as a process that happens over one's life span. FOCC 1000 Unit C3

Life Span development theories

These theories view growth and development as a continual process starting at birth and ending with death. Life span development theories view development as being affected by an individual's life events and how he or she responds to these events. FOCC 1000 Unit C3

Life-threatening illness

An illness that is so harmful it has a high probability of resulting in death. When faced with a life-threatening illness many people will return to religious practices they have not followed for many years. SCSF 1000 Unit F3

Lift

A procedure to move a client from one place to another by supporting the bodyweight of the client. There are two types of lifts -- mechanical and manual. BCND 1000 Unit D2

Ligament

Cartilage that connects one or more bones together at a joint. Ligaments are slightly flexible and allow the skeleton to move. FOCC 1000 Unit C2

Limitation

A restriction of normal functioning and performance. The kind of support required for an individual will depend on their ability to adapt to the limitation. FOCC 1000 Unit C4

Linen

Flat or fitted sheets, blankets, and pillowcases used to make a bed. When preparing to change a client's bed, you should collect only the amount of linen you will need. PCCA 1000 Unit A3

Line of gravity

An imaginary line all the way through your body, from head to feet, used to explain how your body weight is distributed. Good body posture follows the line of gravity and lowers the risk of back injury. PCCA 1000 Unit A2

Lines of Communication

Knowing who to report to, ensuring the right person will get the right information at the right time, so clients receive the care they need. It is the health care aide's responsibility to know the lines of communication where she works. PCCA 1000 Unit A1

Lint-free cloth

A cloth that will not leave small fibres on the surface of items it is used on. When cleaning in a client's home, dust furniture and objects using a lint-free cloth. SCSF 1000 Unit F5

Lint trap

A filter found in all dryers that collects small fibres of material as clothing is dried. The lint trap in a dryer should be removed, cleaned, and put back before each load of clothing is dried. SCSF 1000 Unit F5

Liquid oxygen cylinder

Oxygen in a liquid form that is stored in a small, lightweight container. Liquid oxygen in a cylinder can last 6-8 hours before the cylinder needs to be refilled. SCAE 1000 Unit E2

Liver

An organ that has many functions including regulating, producing, and storing substances to keep the body healthy. The liver produces a substance called bile, which helps to break down fats during the process of digestion. FOCC 1000 Unit C2

Living will/Advanced directive

A legal document of instructions, made while a person is cognitively able to understand and make informed decisions, about the care and treatment she wants when she is no longer able to express these wishes. An HCA should never sign their name as a witness to a living will. SCSF 1000 Unit F3

Local effect

Causes an effect only to the area of the body where it was administered. HCAs can only apply topical medications that have a local effect on the area of the body to which the medication was applied. If it has a systemic effect then it cannot be given by the HCA. SCAE 1000 Unit E6

Longevity

To live a long time. The Chinese value longevity, and respect elders for their age and wisdom. SCSF 1000 Unit F3

Long-term care facility

A place in which people live and receive support services for activities of daily living and receive nursing care. Many health care aides work in a long-term facility setting. RRHB 1000 Unit B1

Lounge/lounging

To sit, stand or lie in an informal way, or to be lazy. When at work, HCAs should not lounge around during their shift, but find tasks to complete. RRHB 1000 Unit B2

Lubricate/lubrication

To keep moist and smooth. As we age, eye lubrication and tearing decrease causing dry eyes. FOCC 1000 Unit C3

To use a substance that helps to reduce moisture loss and friction. Lubricate the mucous membranes of a client who is receiving oxygen therapy. SCAE 1000 Unit E2

Lumbar area

An area of the lower back consisting of the vertebrae between the thorax and sacrum. Good body mechanics helps to prevent injury to the lumbar area of the back. BCND 1000 Unit D1

Lung/lungs

Two organs, a right lung and a left lung, involved in the process of respiration. Lungs draw air into the body so oxygen can be absorbed into the blood for the cells to use. FOCC 1000 Unit C2

Lupus

Autoimmune disease causing a variety of symptoms such as inflammation of organs, joints, and nervous system. Lupus causes serious impairment, but is treatable. FOCC 1000 Unit C4

Lymphatic system

Part of the circulatory system that is responsible for defending the body from infection and disease. The lymphatic system makes special cells (antibodies) that can help a person resist infection and disease. FOCC 1000 Unit C2