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NorQuest Health Dictionary

A research guide focused on medical terminology


A prescription drug used for pain management. Many are habit forming and can cause harm if too much is used. Administering a narcotic is the responsibility of a professional and it is illegal for anyone else to do so. RRHB 1000 Unit B2

Narcotic medication

A drug made with chemicals that reduce sensations and pain and which is addictive. Narcotic medications can become addictive if not used properly. SCAE 1000 Unit E6

Nasal cannula/nasal prongs

A plastic tube with short, curved prongs that are inserted just inside the client's nostrils to deliver extra oxygen to the body. Oxygen is commonly given by nasal cannula so that the mouth remains uncovered, allowing the client to talk and eat without disruption. SCAE 1000 Unit E2

Nasogastric tube/NG-tube

A tube that is inserted through the nose into the stomach. The nasogastric tube is used when the client needs enteral nutrition for less than six weeks. SCAE 1000 Unit E5

Nasointestinal tube

A tube that is inserted through the nose and into the small intestine. The nasointestinal tube is used when the client needs enteral nutrition for less than six weeks. SCAE 1000 Unit E5


A feeling of needing to vomit. Nausea and vomiting may be symptoms of a problem with the circulatory system. FOCC 1000 Unit C2

Nebulization medication

A liquid medication that is delivered to the lungs in the form of a mist which the client breathes in. Nebulization medications are given to help a client breathe more easily. SCAE 1000 Unit E6


Cell death in the skin, usually a result of unrelieved pressure to the skin; appears as white, soft tissue or black, hard tissue. It is important for the HCA to observe clients from head to toe and immediately report any changes, such as signs of necrosis, to the supervisor. PCCA 1000 Unit A3


Dead tissue that appears as a black area on the skin. Necrotic tissue may develop on a pressure area of the body. BCND 1000 Unit D1


Necessary for survival or fulfillment of one's life. Maslow arranges basic human needs into five different groups of needs. FOCC 1000 Unit C1


To talk over an issue or problem with others and come to an agreement that is satisfactory for everyone involved. Negotiating is an effective skill to use when trying come to an agreement about an issue. RRHB 1000 Unit B3


To discuss possible solutions to a problem. If someone is angry or upset you can only begin to problem solve and negotiate a solution after they have calmed down. SCSF 1000 Unit F6

Nerve cell

See Neuron. FOCC 1000 Unit C2

Nerve tissue

Tissue that consists of individual nerve cells, called neurons, that are organized to send signals to different parts of the body. Nerve tissue sends signals by using electrical impulses that travel from one neuron to another. FOCC 1000 Unit C2

Nervous system

The system that transmits electrical impulses (messages) from all parts of the body to the brain and vice versa. The nervous system includes the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves. FOCC 1000 Unit C2


An individual nerve cell that can receive and send electrical impulses to another neuron. Neurons allow the brain to send messages to other parts of the body and receive messages from them. FOCC 1000 Unit C2


A mole; a brown pigmented spot on the skin. Nevi become larger and increase in number during older adulthood. FOCC 1000 Unit C3


Urinating at night. Nocturia can interfere with allowing a client to have a good night's sleep. BCND 1000 Unit D1

Non-dominant hand/nondominant hand

The hand that you use less when writing, playing sports, or tying knots. When shaving a client, use your non-dominant hand to hold the skin taut. BCND 1000 Unit D5


Not allowing your own thoughts and feelings to get in the way of the message being sent. Keeping an open mind and not judging the person's words, actions or behaviors. It is easier to be non-judgmental if you try and understand a situation from the speaker's (sender's) point of view. PCCA 1000 Unit A1


To do nothing that would cause harm to others, either intentionally or unintentionally. As a HCA it is your responsibility to demonstrate nonmaleficence when caring for clients. PCCA 1000 Unit A4

Non-productive cough

A cough that is dry and has no mucus discharge. A non-productive cough can irritate the throat and airway. BCND 1000 Unit D1


Does not reduce circulation or limit movement. When their blood pressure is being measured, clients should wear loose, non-restrictive clothing. SCAE 1000 Unit E3

Non-verbal Communication

Messages sent using body language (facial expression, and movements), tone of voice, the rate and rhythm of speech, and the volume and pitch of speech. Most of your communication is expressed by body language and how you say it. Non-verbal communication of a frown and crossed arms sends a message of anger. PCCA 1000 Unit A1

Normal flora

Bacteria that are harmless and normally live in or on the human body. The skin has normal flora, which help protect the body from harmful bacteria. PCCA 1000 Unit A2


An organ of the sensory system responsible for smell. Humans can identify objects and foods by using their nose to recognize familiar smells. FOCC 1000 Unit C2

Nosocomial infection

Infection acquired in a hospital, care centre, or other institution. After surgery, a patient is more susceptible to nosocomial infections. PCCA 1000 Unit A2

Nothing by mouth (NPO)

Do not eat or drink anything. If a client is nauseated and vomiting, the doctor may order that the client have nothing by mouth. SCAE 1000 Unit E6


Being so overwhelmed and shocked there is little emotion shown. One phase of the grieving process is numbness and a sense of disbelief that the loved one is actually gone. SCSF 1000 Unit F3


Related to a wedding ceremony. Hindu women wear a nuptial thread that must never be removed, even after death. SCSF 1000 Unit F3

Nursing Home Act

This is an Alberta Act that regulates the terms and conditions under which a facility can operate. The Nursing Home Act protects the confidentiality of the records of residents in a facility. PCCA 1000 Unit A4


Substances in foods and liquids that the body uses for energy and to maintain health. Some nutrients the body needs are vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. BCND 1000 Unit D7


Chemical substances present in food that are needed by the body, such as carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals. If a client cannot eat and drink, then the nutrients the body requires may be supplied using tube feeding. SCAE 1000 Unit E5


The state of the body having taken in food and used it to provide calories and nutrients to maintain health. Providing the body with the nutrition required to stay healthy is a basic need of all people. BCND 1000 Unit D7


Containing nutrients the body needs for proper functioning and health. The caregiver must understand what nutritious foods are so she can offer the client healthy food choices. BCND 1000 Unit D7