Medical Jargon

Jargon Booth

D5 – the abbreviation for dextrose (glucose) given in a 5 percent normal saline solution
Darvocet – a drug (propoxyphene hydrochloride) prescribed for pain
DB – ER abbreviation for a dead body
dead shovel – ER slang for a fat man who dies while shoveling snow
debridement – cleaning an open wound by removing foreign material and dead tissue. Debridement of burns is extremely painful
decerebration – the progressive loss of cerebral function; advanced decerebration (and the resultant deep unconsciousness) occurs with severe damage to the cerebrum, the largest part of the brain
deep vein thrombosis – a blood clot in a deep vein
defibrillation – the cessation of fibrillation of the cardiac muscle and restoration of a normal rhythm
delusional – having an irrational belief that cannot be changed by a rational argument, often found in schizophrenia and manic-depressive psychosis
demerol – trade name for meperidine, a synthetic analgesic often used as a substitute for morphine
diabetic ketoacidosis – depletion of the body’s alkali reserves due to diabetes, causing a major disruption in the body’s acid-base balance. The breath smells fruity and the patient is usually comatose.
diagnosis – determining what’s wrong with a patient by using the patient’s symptoms, signs, test results, medical background, and other factors
dialysis – the procedure to filter blood for patients with kidney failure, also used to remove absorbed toxins from overdosing and poisoning
diaphoresis – sweating
diastolic – pressure during the relaxing of the heart
DIC – abbreviation for disseminated intravascular coagulation (no blood clotting). (In many hospitals, ER personnel also interpret DIC to mean “death is coming” since disseminated intravascular coagulation usually means death is imminent) differential diagnosis – diagnosis made by ruling out many disorders. The patient usually presents with symptoms that can be shared by many conditions. For example, chest pain can be caused by many diseases or conditions, and each one must be ruled out to arrive at the correct diagnosis
digitalis – a drug prescribed for congestive heart failure
dilantin – an anticonvulsant drug used to prevent seizures
diplopia – double vision
disaster protocol color coding – the following color tags are used to immediately triage patients during a mass casualty event: Green is walking wounded; yellow is urgent; red is critical; black is DOA
distal pulse – the pulse farthest from the heart
diuresis – the increased production of urine
diuretic – drug used to increased diuresis, ie lasix
diverticulitis – inflammation of the colon
DNR – the abbreviation for do not resuscitate, which is requested or ordered for terminally ill patients
DOA – abbreviation for dead on arrival
dopamine – a catecholamine neurotransmitter, similar to adrenaline. It is used during surgery to increase cardiac output and renal blood flow
DTP – a diphtheria tetanus pertussis toxoid injection
dyspnea – shortness of breath
dystocia – difficult labor due to some fetal problem, such as dislocation of the shoulders

ECG – electrocardiogram. measures heart activity
EEG – electroencephalogram. measures brain activity
EKG – see ECG
eclampsia – a serious condition affecting pregnant women in which the entire body is affected by convulsions and the patient eventually passes into a coma
ectopic pregnancy – the development of the fetus in the fallopian tube instead of in the womb
edema – excessive accumulation of fluid
elavil – trade name for amitriptyline
electrolyte analysis – tests the basic chemicals in the body; sodium, potassium, chloride, and bicarbonate
embolectomy – surgical removal of an embolus
embolus – a blood clot
EMS – abbreviation for emergency medical services. The term EMS is used in the American Heart Association protocols for BLS and ACLS
EMT – abbreviation for emergency medical technician
endocarditis – inflammation of cardiac tissue, usually caused by bacterial infection
endoscope – a long flexible tube with its own special lighting
epi – adrenaline, used to make heart beat faster and raise blood pressure
epidermis – the outer layer of the skin
epidural – an epidural block; an injection through a catheter of a local anesthetic to relieve pain during labor, usually done at the lumbar level of the spine
epiglottitis – inflammation of the epiglottis