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NorQuest Health Dictionary

A research guide focused on medical terminology


A condition in which a person is more than 30 lbs heavier than their ideal weight. Obesity affects blood pressure; people who are obese usually have a higher blood pressure than normal. SCAE 1000 Unit E3

Objective observations

These are based on facts and are obtained through direct observation using your five senses of sight, smell, touch, hearing, and taste. Noticing a resident looks flushed is using your sense of sight to form an objective observation. PCCA 1000 Unit A1


A responsibility or duty to a person, a promise, or an agreement. If you have an obligation to protect a client from harm, then you must do your best to promote the client's safety. PCCA 1000 Unit A4

Observation man

A way of observing the client from top to bottom by starting at the head, moving to the trunk, and finally to the extremities (arms and legs). When using the "observation man" to observe the client, make a note of anything that is unusual or is a change from the last time you observed him. BCND 1000 Unit D1


This involves gathering information around you; it should be done every time you are with a client. Observations include objective and subjective information. You must report any new observations or changes in a client's condition to your supervisor. PCCA 1000 Unit A1


To look at the client, making a note of any changes in appearance, behaviour, communication, or status. Observations may be either objective or subjective. BCND 1000 Unit D1

Occipital flattening/ Occipital Plagiocephaly

The flattening of the back of a baby's head caused by an excessive amount of time with the infant lying on his back. Occipital flattening causes a flat area at the back of the skull, a wide head, and shifting of ear, cheekbone, and eye position. SCSF 1000 unit F4

Occupational Health and Safety Act and Regulations

Legislation enforced by industry leaders and the provincial government that protects the rights of employees for workplace health and safety. The Occupational Health and Safety Act and Regulations promotes safe and healthy work environments. RRHB 1000 Unit B2

Occupational therapist

A professional who assists the client in regaining life skills and in vocational rehabilitation. Occupational therapists have an area of expertise that will help a team to meet client goals. RRHB 1000 Unit B3


A smell that can be pleasant or unpleasant. One way to control an unpleasant odour is to remove the item that is causing it. PCCA 1000 Unit A3


A thick semi-liquid medication that is used on the skin or mucous membranes. When using ointment to the eye, squeeze ointment on the rim of the lower eyelid, from inner lid to outer lid. SCAE 1000 Unit E6

Olfactory bulb

A nasal structure that contains olfactory nerves that send signals from olfactory rods to the brain. The olfactory bulb is an important part of the sensory organ for smell. FOCC 1000 Unit C2

Olfactory rods

Nerve cells, located in the nose, that send signals to the brain in response to chemical particles with which they come in contact. Olfactory rods in the nose send electrical messages to the brain through the olfactory bulb. FOCC 1000 Unit C2

One-piece ostomy appliance

An appliance that has the wafer and pouch together in one piece. If the pouch needs to be removed, then the wafer is also removed and a new one-piece ostomy appliance must be applied over the stoma. SCAE 1000 Unit E1

Open-ended questions

These types of questions require answers that provide more information than direct questions would. Invites the person to share thoughts and feelings. Example: How do you feel when your son can't come to visit? PCCA 1000 Unit A1


A medication prepared for administration to the eyes. Ophthalmic medications are used to treat infections and diseases of the eyes. SCAE 1000 Unit E6


A judgment or belief about something based on knowledge and observations. An opinion held by one person may differ from that held by another person. BCND 1000 Unit D1

Opportunistic infections and diseases

Infections and diseases that a normally functioning immune system can fight, but a weakened immune system cannot fight. HIV makes the body susceptible to opportunistic infections. FOCC 1000 Unit C4


The most favourable, or best, conditions. It is important for caregivers to promote optimal health for each client. RRHB 1000 Unit B1


A positive attitude towards life and living. People who accept aging look to the future with optimism. FOCC 1000 Unit C3


The best or most favourable condition. The goal of client care is to allow him or her to enjoy an optimum level of wellness. PCCA 1000 Unit A4

Oral care

The cleaning of all surfaces of the mouth, including teeth, gums, and tongue. Oral care helps keep the mouth clean, moist, and free of infection. BCND 1000 Unit D5

Oral hygiene

The practice of cleaning all surfaces of the mouth, including teeth, gums, and tongue to maintain oral health. Oral hygiene helps keep the mouth clean, moist, and free of infection. SCAE 1000 Unit E2

Oral medications

Medications that are taken by mouth or into the stomach. Oral medications are given in tablet, capsule, or liquid form. SCAE 1000 Unit E6

Oral suctioning

The process of inserting a catheter into the mouth to remove secretions when a person is unable to do this herself. Oral suctioning is used when clients are unable to expel secretions or are unable to swallow. SCAE 1000 Unit E2

Oral temperature

A measurement of body heat using a probe that is placed under the tongue. When you are taking an oral temperature it is important that the thermometer stay under the tongue for the recommended amount of time. SCAE 1000 Unit E3

Orange stick

A long, thin, round piece of wood with pointed ends, used to clean under the fingernails when washing your hands. Part of proper handwashing is to use an orange stick to clean under the fingernails. PCCA 1000 Unit A2


Tissues that are grouped together and work together to perform a specific function. Some examples of organs are bones, the skin, the heart, and the stomach. FOCC 1000 Unit C2


An awareness of person; who you are, and the environment, where you are, why you are there, and the date and time. A client who is confused may not be orientated to person, place, time, or all three. SCSF 1000 Unit F2

Orthostatic hypotension/Postural hypotension

Occurs when there is a sudden drop of blood pressure when a person gets up too quickly from a sitting or lying position. Orthostatic hypotension can cause dizziness and a loss of balance. SCAE 1000 Unit E3


Inflammation of weight-bearing joints caused by injury, joint damage, or heredity. Osteoarthritis affects joints such as hips and knees. FOCC 1000 Unit C4


A decrease in calcium deposits in the bone causing porous bones. Osteoporosis causes the bone to become brittle, weak, and prone to fractures. FOCC 1000 Unit C4


A surgical procedure that creates a new opening on the outside of the body. There are three main types of ostomies: colostomy, ileostomy, and permanent urinary diversion. SCAE 1000 Unit E1

Ostomy appliance

A device designed to stick to the skin around a stoma and collect drainage (feces or urine) into a sealed pouch, which can be emptied or changed as needed. Ostomy appliances can be a single unit or a two-piece system, consisting of a wafer and a pouch. SCAE 1000 Unit E1

Ostomy belt

An elastic belt used to provide extra security in holding the ostomy appliance in place. The ostomy belt is not disposable and should be saved for reuse when changing the ostomy appliance. SCAE 1000 Unit E1


A medication prepared for administration to the ears. Otic medications are used to treat infections and diseases of the ears. SCAE 1000 Unit E6

Outer ear/external ear

Outer part of the ear that collects sound waves from the outside and directs them to the eardrum. The outer ear contains tiny hairs and produces a protective wax that protects the middle ear and eardrum. FOCC 1000 Unit C2


The wastes and fluids eliminated by the body, including urine, stool, wound drainage, and vomit (emesis). If output needs to be measured, the HCA would measure the discharged fluid in millilitres (ml) and record the measurements on the appropriate form. BCND 1000 Unit D1

Ovarian and uterine tumours

Masses in the ovaries or uterus that can be benign or malignant. Ovarian and uterine tumours are common medical conditions. FOCC 1000 Unit C4


The female reproductive organ that produces eggs and hormones that regulate the female menstrual cycle. The ovaries release an egg approximately once every 28 days in a cycle called ovulation. FOCC 1000 Unit C2

Overlapping tasks

If you start one task and then start or finish another task, two or more tasks are happening at the same time. This is overlap. Learning to overlap tasks is an effective way to manage time when many tasks need to be completed. RRHB 1000 Unit B3

Over-the-counter medication

Medication that can be purchased without a prescription from a doctor. Over-the-counter medications can be harmful to the body if they are not used as directed. SCAE 1000 Unit E6


The maturation and release of an egg from the ovaries that is ready for fertilization. Ovulation occurs approximately every 28 days. FOCC 1000 Unit C2


A gas found in air that is necessary for life. Oxygen is brought to every cell in the body by the circulatory system. FOCC 1000 Unit C2

A colourless, odourless, tasteless gas that makes up 21% of the air we breathe. The cells of the body need a continual supply of oxygen to function properly. SCAE 1000 Unit E2

Oxygenated blood

Blood with a high amount of oxygen. The heart pumps oxygenated blood to the cells of the body through arteries. FOCC 1000 Unit C2


The process of providing oxygen to the cells of the body. Oxygenation is one function of the circulatory system. FOCC 1000 Unit C2

Oxygen concentrator

A lightweight unit the size of a small bedside table that concentrates oxygen from the room air. An oxygen concentrator does not need refilling, but it will not run without a power supply. SCAE 1000 Unit E2

Oxygen liberator

A large oxygen container that is used to refill smaller, portable oxygen tanks. The procedure for filling portable oxygen tanks from an oxygen liberator differs, so have your supervisor show you how before attempting to refill a tank. SCAE 1000 Unit E2

Oxygen tanks/oxygen cylinders

Reusable heavy steel containers that hold compressed oxygen. Oxygen tanks should be secured in an upright position and never be dropped or tipped over. SCAE 1000 Unit E2

Oxygen therapy

Providing extra oxygen to the body so it can function properly. Oxygen therapy may be needed because of conditions or diseases that prevent the body from taking in enough oxygen. SCAE 1000 Unit E2