Medical Assistant Glossary

Medical Assistant Glossary Of Terms


10 x lens      A magnifying lens in the ocular of a microscope that magnifies an image ten times.

24-hour urine specimen      A urine specimen collected over a 24-hour period and used to complete a quantitative and qualitative analysis of one or more substances, such as sodium, chloride, and calcium.
abandonment      A situation in which a health-care professional stops caring for a patient without arranging for care by an equally qualified substitute.
ABA number      A fraction appearing in the upper right corner of all printed checks that identifies the geographic area 
abduction      Movement away from the body.
abscess      A collection of pus (white blood cells, bacteria, and dead skin cells) that forms as a result of infection.
absorption      The process by which one substance is absorbed, or taken in and incorporated, into another,as when the body converts food or drugs into a form it can use.
access      The way patients enter and exit a medical office
accessibility      The ease with which people can move into and out of a space.
accounts payable      Money owed by a business; the practice's expenses.
accounts receivable      Income or money owed to a business.
accreditation      The documentation of official authorization or approval of a program.
acetylcholine      A neurotransmitter released by the parasympathetic nerves onto organs and glands for resting and digesting.
acetylcholinesterase      An enzyme within the nervous system that hydrolyzes acetylcholine to acetate and choline.
acid-fast stain      A staining procedure for identifying bacteria that have a waxy cell wall.
acids      Electrolytes that release hydrogen ions in water.
acinar cells      Cells in the pancreas that produce pancreatic juice.
acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)      The most advanced stage of HIV infection; it severely weakens the body's immune system.
acromegaly      A disorder in which too much growth hormone is produced in adults.
acrosome      An enzymefilled sac covering the head of a sperm that aids in the penetration of the egg during fertilization.
action potential      The flow of electrical current along the axon membrane.
active file      A file used on a consistent basis.
active listening      Part of two-way communication, such as offering feedback or asking questions; contrast with passive listening.
active transport      The movement of a substance across a cell membrane from an area of low concentration to an area of high concentration.
acupuncturist      A practitioner of acupuncture. The acupuncturist uses hollow needles inserted into the patient's skin to treat pain, discomfort, or systemic imbalances.
acute      Having a rapid onset and progress, as acute appendicitis.
addiction      A physical or psychological dependence on a substance, usually involving a pattern of behavior that includes obsessive or compulsive preoccupation with the substance and the security of its supply, as well as a high rate of relapse after withdrawal.
add-on code      A code indicating procedures that are usually carried out in addition to another procedure. Add-on codes are used together with the primary code.
adduction      Movement toward the body.
adenoids      See pharyngeal tonsils. 
administer      To give a drug directly by injection, by mouth, or by any other route that introduces the drug into the body.
adrenocorticotropic hormone      Hormone that stimulates the adrenal cortex to release its hormones.
advance scheduling      Booking an appointment several weeks or even months in advance.

aerobes      Bacteria that grow best in the presence of oxygen.
aerobic respiration      A process that requires large amounts of oxygen and uses glucose to make ATP.
afebrile      Having a body temperature within one's normal range.
afferent arterioles      Structures that deliver blood to the glomeruli of the kidneys.
affiliation agreement      An agreement that externship participants must sign that states the expectations of the facility and the expectations of the student.
agar      A gelatin like substance derived from seaweed that gives a culture medium its semisolid consistency.
age analysis      The process of clarifying and reviewing past due accounts by age from the first date of billing.
agenda      The list of topics discussed or presented at a meeting, in order of presentation.
agent      (legal) A person who acts on a physician's behalf while performing professional tasks; (clinical) an active principle or entity that produces a certain effect, for example, an infectious agent.
agglutination      The clumping of red blood cells following a blood transfusion.
aggressive      Imposing one's position on others or trying to manipulate them.
agranular leukocyte      A type of leukocyte (white blood cell) with a solid nucleus and clear cytoplasm; includes lymphocytes and monocytes.
agranulocyte      See agranular leukocyte.
albumins      The smallest of the plasma proteins. Albumins are important for pulling water into the bloodstream to help maintain blood pressure.
aldosterone      A hormone produced in the adrenal glands that acts on the kidney. It causes the body to retain sodium and excrete potassium. Its role is to maintain blood volume and pressure.

alimentary canal      The organs of the digestive system that extend from the mouth to the anus.

allele      Any one of a pair or series of genes that occupy a specific position on a specific chromosome.
allergen      An antigen that induces an allergic reaction.
allergist      A specialist who diagnoses and treats physical reactions to substances including mold, dust, fur, pollen, foods, drugs, and chemicals.
allowed charge      The amount that is the most the payer will pay any provider for each procedure or service.
alopecia      The clinical term for baldness.
alphabetic filing system      A filing system in which the files are arranged in alphabetic order, with the patient's last name first, followed by the first name and middle initial.
Alphabetic Index      One of two ways diagnoses are listed in the ICD-9-CM. They appear in alphabetic order with their corresponding diagnosis codes.
alveolar glands      Glands that make milk under the influence of the hormone prolactin.
alveoli      Clusters of air sacs in which the exchange of gases between air and blood takes place; located in the lungs.
American Association of Medical Assistants      The professional organization that certifies medical assistants and works to maintain professional standards in the medical assisting profession.

Americans With Disabilities Act      A U.S. civil rights act forbidding discrimination against people because of a physical or mental handicap.

amblyopia      Poorvision in one eye without a detectable cause.

amino acids      Natural organic compounds found in plant and animal foods and used by the body to create protein.

amnion      The innermost membrane enveloping the embryo and containing amniotic fluid.

anabolism      The stage of metabolism in which substances such as nutrients are changed into more complex substances and used to build body tissues.

anaerobe      A bacterium that grows best in the absence of oxygen.
anal canal      The last few centimeters of the rectum. 
anaphylaxis      A severe allergic reaction with symptoms that include respiratory distress, difficulty in swallowing, pallor, and a drastic drop in blood pressure that can lead to circulatory collapse. 
anatomical position      When the body is standing upright and facing forward with the arms at the side and the palms of the hands facing forward.

anatomy      The scientific term for the study of body structure.

anemia      A condition characterized by low red blood cell count. This condition decreases the ability to transport oxygen throughout the body.

anergic reaction      A lack of response to skin testing that indicates the body's inability to mount a normal response to invasion by a pathogen.

anesthesia      A loss of sensation, particularly the feeling of pain.

anesthetic      A medication that causes anesthesia.

anesthetist      A specialist who uses medications to cause patients to lose sensation or feeling during surgery.

aneurysm      A serious and potentially life-threatening bulge in the wall of a blood vessel.

angiography      An x-ray examination of a blood vessel, performed after the injection of a contrast medium that evaluates the function and structure of one or more arteries or veins.

angiotensin II      A hormone that raises blood pressure and causes the secretion of another hormone called aldosterone.

annotate      To underline or highlight key points of a document or to write reminders, make comments, and suggest actions in the margins.

anorexia nervosa      An eating disorder in which people starve themselves because they fear that if they lose control of eating they will become grossly overweight.

antagonist      A muscle that produces the opposite movement of the prime mover.

antecubital space      The inner side or bend of the elbow;the site at which the brachial artery is felt or heard when a pulse or blood pressure is taken.

anterior      Anatomical term meaning toward the front of the body;also called ventral.
antibodies      Highly specific proteins that attach themselves to foreign substances in an initial step in destroying such substances, as part of the body's defenses.

antidiuretic hormone      A hormone that increases water reabsorption, which decreases urine production and helps to maintain blood pressure.
antigen      A foreign substance that stimulates white blood cells to create antibodies when it enters the body.
antihistamines      Medications used to treat allergies.
antimicrobial      An agent that kills microorganisms or suppresses their growth.
antioxidants      Chemical agents that fight cell-destroying chemical substances called free radicals.
antiseptic      A cleaning product used on human tissue as an anti-infection agent.
anuria      The absence of urine production.
aortic valve      Heart valve that is a semilunar valve and that is situated between the left ventricle and the aorta.
apex      The left lower corner of the heart, where the strongest heart sounds can be heard.
apical      Located at the apex of the heart.
apocrine gland      A type of sweat gland. It produces a thicker type of sweat than other sweat glands and contains more proteins.
aponeurosis      A tough, sheet-like structure that is made of fibrous connective tissue. It typically attaches muscles to other muscles.
appendicitis      Inflammation of the appendix.
appendicular      The division of the skeletal system that consists of the bones of the arms, legs, pectoral girdle, and pelvic girdle.
approximation      The process of bringing the edges of a wound together, so the tissue surfaces are close, to protect the area from further contamination and to minimize scar and scab formation.
aqueous humor      A liquid produced by the eye's ciliary body that fills the space between the cornea and the lens.
arbitration      A process in which opposing sides choose a person or persons outside the court system,often someone with special knowledge in the field, to hear and decide a dispute.
areflexia      The absence of reflexes.
areola      The pigmented area that surrounds the nipple.
arrector pili      Muscles attached to most hair follicles and found in the dermis.
arrhythmia      Irregularity in heart rhythm.
arterial blood gases      A test that measures the amount of gases, such as oxygen and carbon dioxide, dissolved in arterial blood.
arthrography      A radiologic procedure performed by a radiologist, who uses a contrast medium and fluoroscopy to help diagnose abnormalities or injuries in the cartilage, tendons, or ligaments of the joints—usually the knee or shoulder.
arthroscopy      A procedure in which an orthopedist examines a joint, usually the knee or shoulder, with a tubular instrument called an arthroscope; also used to guide surgical procedures.
articular cartilage      The cartilage that covers the epiphysis of long bones.
artifact      Any irrelevant object or mark observed when examining specimens or graphic records that is not related to the object being examined; for example, a foreign object visible through a microscope or an erroneous mark on an ECG strip.
ascending colon      The segment of the large intestine that runs up the right side of the abdominal cavity.
ascending tracts      The tracts of the spinal cord that carry sensory information to the brain.
asepsis      The condition in which pathogens are absent or controlled.
assault      The open threat of bodily harm to another.
assertive      Being firm and standing up for oneself while showing respect for others.
asset      An item owned by the practice that has a dollar value, such as the medical practice building, office equipment, or accounts receivable.
assignment of benefits      An authorization for an insurance carrier to pay a physician or practice directly.
astigmatism      A condition in which the cornea has an abnormal shape, which causes blurred images during near or distant vision.
atherosclerosis      The accumulation of fatty deposits along the inner walls of arteries.
atlas      The first cervical vertebra.
atoms      The simplest units of all matter.
atria      Singular: atrium Chambers of the heart that receive blood from the veins and circulate it to the ventricles.
atrial natriuretic peptide      A hormone secreted by the heart that regulates blood pressure.
atrioventricular bundle      A structure that is located between the ventricles of the heart and that sends the electrical impulse to the Purkinje fibers.
atrioventricular node      A node that is located between the atria of the heart. After the electrical impulse reaches the atrioventricular node, the atria contract and the impulse is sent to the ventricles.
audiologist      A health-care specialist who focuses on evaluating and correcting hearing problems.
audiometer      An electronic device that measures hearing acuity by producing sounds in specific frequencies and intensities.
auditory tube      A structure that connects the middle ear to the throat. Also called the Eustachian tube.

auricle      The outside part of the ear, made of cartilage and covered with skin.

auscultated blood pressure      Blood pressure as measured by listening with a stethoscope.
auscultation      The process of listening to body sounds.

authorization      A form that explains in detail the standards for the use and disclosure of patient information for purposes other than treatment, payment, or healthcare operations.

autoclave      A device that uses pressurized steam to sterilize instruments and equipment.

automated external defibrillator      A computerized defibrillator programmed to recognize lethal heart rhythms and deliver an electrical shock to restore a normal rhythm.

autonomic      A division of the peripheral nervous system that connects the central nervous system to viscera such as the heart, stomach, intestines, glands, blood vessels, and bladder.

autosome      A chromosome that is not a sex chromosome.

axial      The division of the skeletal system that consists of the skull, vertebral column, and rib cage.

axilla      Armpit; one of the four locations for temperature readings.
axis      The second vertebra of the neck on which the head turns.
axon      A type of nerve fiber that is typically long and branches far from the cell body. Its function is to send information away from the cell body.

bacillus      A rod-shaped bacterium.
bacterial spore      A primitive, thick-walled reproductive body capable of developing into a new individual; resistant to killing through disinfection.
balance billing      Billing a patient for the difference between a higher usual fee and a lower allowed charge.
barium enema      A radiologic procedure performed by a radiologist who administers barium sulfate through the anus, into the rectum, and then into the colon to help diagnose and evaluate obstructions, ulcers, polyps, diverticulosis, tumors, or motility problems of the colon or rectum; also called a lower GI (gastrointestinal) series.
barium swallow      A radiologic procedure that involves oral administration of a barium sulfate drink to help diagnose and evaluate obstructions, ulcers, polyps, diverticulosis, tumors, or motility problems of the esophagus, stomach, duodenum, and small intestine; also called an upper GI (gastrointestinal) series.
baroreceptors      Structures, located in the aorta and carotid arteries, that help regulate blood pressure.
bases      Electrolytes that releasehydroxyl ions in water.
basophil      A type of granular leukocyte that produces the chemical histamine, which aids the body in controlling allergic reactions and other exaggerated immunologic responses.
battery      An action that causes bodily harm to another.
behavior modification      The altering of personal habits to promote a healthier lifestyle.
benefits      Payments for medical services.
bicarbonate ions      Elements formed when carbon dioxide gets into the bloodstream and reacts with water. In the alimentary canal, these ions neutralize acidic chyme arriving from the stomach.
bicuspids      Teeth with two cusps. There are two in front of each set of molars.
bicuspid valve      Heart valve that has two cusps and that is located between the left atrium and the left ventricle. Also known as the mitral valve.
bile      A substance created in the liver and stored in the gallbladder. Bile is a bitter yellow-green fluid that is used in the digestion of fats.
bilirubin      A bile pigment formed by the breakdown of hemoglobin in the liver.
bilirubinuria      The presence of bilirubin in the urine; one of the first signs of liver disease or conditions that involve the liver.
birthday rule      A rule that states that the insurance policy of a policyholder whose birthday comes first in the year is the primary payer for all dependents.
biliverdin      A pigment released when a red blood cell is destroyed.
biochemistry      The study of matter and chemical reactions in the body.
bioethics      Principles of right and wrong in issues that arise from medical advances.
biohazard symbol      A symbol that must appear on all containers used to store waste products, blood, blood products, or other specimens that may be infectious.
biohazardous materials      Biological agents that can spread disease to living things.
biohazardous waste container      A leakproof, puncture-resistant container,color-coded red or labeled with a special biohazard symbol, that is used to store and dispose of contaminated supplies and equipment.
biopsy      The process of removing and examining tissues and cells from the body.
biopsy specimen      A small amount of tissue removed from the body for examination under a microscope to diagnose an illness.
bioterrorism      The intentional release of a biologic agent with the intent to harm individuals.
blastocyst      A morula that travels down the uterine tube to the uterus and is invaded with fluid. It then implants into the wall of the uterus.
blood-borne pathogen      A disease-causing microorganism carried in a host's blood and transmitted through contact with infected blood, tissue, or body fluids.
blood-brain barrier      A structure that is formed from tight capillaries to protect the tissues of the central nervous system from certain substances.
B lymphocyte      A type of nongranular leukocyte that produces antibodies to combat specific pathogens.
body language      Nonverbal communication, including facial expressions, eye contact, posture, touch, and attention to personal space.
bookkeeping      The systematic recording of business transactions.
bone conduction      The process by which sound waves pass through the bones of the skull directly to the inner ear, bypassing the outer and middle ears.
botulism      A lifethreatening type of food poisoning that results from eating improperly canned or preserved foods that have been contaminated with the bacterium Clostridium botulinum.
brachial artery      An artery that provides a palpable pulse and audible vascular sounds in the antecubital space (the bend of the elbow).
brachytherapy      A radiation therapy technique in which a radiologist places temporary radioactive implants close to or directly into cancerous tissue; used for treating localized cancers. 
brain stem      A structure that connects the cerebrum to the spinal cord.
breach of contract      The violation of or failure to live up to a contract's terms.
bronchi      The two branches of the trachea that enter the lungs.
bronchial tree      A series of tubes that begins where the distal end of the trachea branches.
bronchioles      A part of the respiratory tract that branches from the tertiary bronchi.
buccal      Between the cheek and gum.
bulbourethral glands      Glands that lie beneath the prostate and empty their fluid into the urethra. Their fluid aids in sperm movement.
buffy coat      The layer between the packed red blood cells and plasma in a centrifuged blood sample; this layer contains the white blood cells and platelets.
bulimia      An eating disorder in which people eat a large quantity of food in a short period of time (bingeing) and then attempt to counter the effects of bingeing by self-induced vomiting, use of laxatives or diuretics, and/or excessive exercise.
burnout      The end result of prolonged periods of stress without relief. Burnout is an energy-depleting condition that can affect one's health and career. It can be common for those who work in health care.
bursitis      Inflammation of a bursa.
calcaneus      The largest tarsal bone; also called the heel bone.
calcitonin      A hormone produced by the thyroid gland that lowers blood calcium levels by activating osteoblasts.
calibrate      to determine the caliber of
calibration syringe      A standardized measuring instrument used to check and adjust the volume indicator on a spirometer.
calorie      A unit used to measure the amount of energy food produces;the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 kg of water by 1°C.
calyces      Small cavities of the renal pelvis of the kidney.
canaliculi      Tiny canals that connect lacunae to each other.
capillary      Branches of arterioles and the smallest type of blood vessel.
capillary puncture      A blood-drawing technique that requires a superficial puncture of the skin with a sharp point.
capitation      A payment structure in which a health maintenance organization prepays an annual set fee per patient to a physician.
carboxypeptidase      A pancreatic enzyme that digests proteins.
carcinogen      A factor that is known to cause the formation of cancer.
cardiac catheterization      A diagnostic method in which a catheter is inserted into a vein or artery in the arm or leg and passed through blood vessels into the heart.
cardiac cycle      The sequence of contraction and relaxation that makes up a complete heartbeat.
cardiologist      A specialist who diagnoses and treats diseases of the heart and blood vessels (cardiovascular diseases).
carditis      Inflammation of the heart.
carpal      Bones of the wrist.
carpal tunnel syndrome      A painful disorder caused by compression of the median nerve in the carpal tunnel of the wrist.
carrier      A reservoir host who is unaware of the presence of a pathogen and so spreads the disease while exhibiting no symptoms of infection.
cast      A rigid, external dressing, usually made of plaster or fiberglass, that is molded to the contours of the body part to which it is applied; used to immobilize a fractured or dislocated bone. (44) Cylinder-shaped elements with flat or rounded ends, differing in composition and size, that form when protein from the breakdown of cells accumulates and precipitates in the kidney tubules and is washed into the urine.
catabolism      The stage of metabolism in which complex substances, including utrients and body tissues, are broken down into simpler substances and converted into energy.
cataracts      Cloudy areas that form in the lens of the eye that prevent light from reaching visual receptors.
cash flow statement      A statement that shows the cash on hand at the beginning of a period, the income and disbursements made during the period, and the new amount of cash on hand at the end of the period.
cashier's check      A bank check issued by a bank on bank paper and signed by a bank representative; usually purchased by individuals who do not have checking accounts.
catheterization      The procedure during which a catheter is inserted into a vessel, an organ, or a body cavity.
caudal      See inferior
CD-ROM      A compact disc that contains software programs; an abbreviation for “compact disc— read-only memory.”

cecum      The first section of the large intestine.
cell body      The portion of the neuron that contains the nucleus and organelles.
cell membrane      The outer limit of a cell that is thin and selectively permeable. It controls the movement of substances into and out of the cell.
cells      The smallest living units of structure and function.
cellulitis      Inflammation of cellular or connective tissue.
cellulose      A type of carbohydrate that is found in vegetables and cannot be digested by humans; commonly called fiber.

Celsius      One of two common scales for measuring temperature; measured in degrees Celsius, or °C.
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services      A congressional agency designed to handle Medicare and Medicaid insurance claims. It was formerly known as the Health Care Financing Administration.
central nervous system      A system that consists of the brain and the spinal cord.
central processing unit      A microprocessor, the primary computer chip responsible for interpreting and executing programs.
centrifuge      A device used to spin a specimen at high speed until it separates into its component parts.
cerebellum      An area of the brain inferior to the cerebrum that coordinates complex skeletal muscle coordination.
cerebrospinal fluid      The fluid in the subarachnoid space of the meninges and the central canal of the spinal cord.
cerebrum      The largest part of the brain; it mainly includes the cerebral hemispheres.
Certificate of Waiver tests      Laboratory tests that pose an insignificant risk to the patient if they are performed or interpreted incorrectly, are simple and accurate to such a degree that the risk of obtaining incorrect results is minimal, and have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use by patients at home; laboratories performing only Certificate of Waiver tests must meet less stringent standards than laboratories that perform tests in other categories.
certified check      A payer's check written and signed by the payer, which is stamped “certified” by the bank. The bank has already drawn money from the payer's account to guarantee that the check will be paid.
Certified Medical Assistant      A medical assistant whose knowledge about the skills of medical assistants, as summarized by the 2003 AAMA Role Delineation Study areas of competence, has been certified by the Certifying Board of the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA).

cerumen      A waxlike substance produced by glands in the ear canal; also called earwax.
cervical enlargement      The thickening of the spinal cord in the neck region.
cervical orifice      The opening of the uterus through the cervix into the vagina.) 
cervicitis      Inflammation of the cervix.
cervix      The lowest portion of the uterus that extends into the vagina.
chain of custody      A procedure for ensuring that a specimen is obtained from a specified individual, is correctly identified, is under the uninterrupted control of authorized personnel, and has not been altered or replaced.
CHAMPVA      A type of health insurance that covers the expenses of families (dependent spouses and children) of veterans with total, permanent, and service-connected disabilities. It also covers the surviving families of veterans who die in the line of duty or as a result of service connected disabilities.
chancre      A painless ulcer that may appear on the tongue, the lips, the genitalia, the rectum, or elsewhere.
charge slip      The original record of services performed for a patient and the charges for those services.
check      A bank draft or order written by a payer that directs the bank to pay a sum of money on demand to the payee.
chemistry      The study of the composition of matter and how matter changes.
chemoreceptor      Any cell that is activated by a change in chemical concentration and results in a nerve impulse. The olfactory or smell receptors in the nose are an example of a chemoreceptor. 
chief cells      Cells in the lining of the stomach that secrete pepsinogen.
chief complaint      The patient's main issue of pain or ailment.
chiropractor      A physician who uses a system of therapy, including manipulation of the spine, to treat illness or pain. This treatment is done without drugs or surgery.
cholangiography      A test that evaluates the function of the bile ducts by injection of a contrast medium directly into the common bile duct (during gallbladder surgery) or through a T-tube (after gallbladder surgery or during radiologic testing) and taking an x-ray.
cholecystography      A gallbladder function test performed by x-ray after the patient ingests an oral contrast agent; used to detect gallstones and bile duct obstruction.
cholesterol      A fat-related substance that the body produces in the liver and obtains from dietary sources; needed in small amounts to carry out several vital functions. High levels of cholesterol in the blood increase the risk of heart and artery disease.
chordae tendineae      Cord-like structures that attach the cusps of the heart valves to the papillary muscles in the ventricles.
choroid      The middle layer of the eye, which contains the iris, the ciliary body, and most of the eye's blood vessels.
chromosome      Threadlike structures comprised of DNA.
chronic      Lasting a long time or recurring frequently, as in chronic osteoarthritis.
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease      A disease characterized by the presence of airflow obstruction due to chronic bronchitisor emphysema. It is typically progressive. Cigarette smoking is the leading cause.
chronological résumé      The type of résumé used by individuals who have job experience. Jobs are listed according to date, with the most recent being listed first.
chylomicron      The least dense of the lipoproteins; it functions in lipid transportation.
chyme      The mixture of food and gastric juice.
chymotrypsin      A pancreatic enzyme that digests proteins.
ciliary body      A wedgeshaped thickening in the middle layer of the eyeball that contains the muscles that control the shape of the lens.
circumduction      Moving a body part in a circle; for example, tracing a circle with your arm.
cirrhosis      A long-lasting liver disease in which normal liver tissue is replaced with nonfunctioning scar tissue.
civil law      Involves crimes against persons. A person can sue another person, business, or the government. Judgments often require a payment of money.
clarity      Clearness in writing or stating a message.
class action lawsuit      A lawsuit in which one or more people sue a company or other legal entity that allegedly wronged all of them in the same way.
clavicle      A slender, curved long bone that connects the sternum and the scapula; also called the collar bone.
clean-catch midstream urine specimen      A type of urine specimen that requires special cleansing of the external genitalia to avoid contamination by organisms residing near the external opening of the urethra and is used to identify the number and types of pathogens present in urine; sometimes referred to as midvoid.
clearinghouse      A group that takes nonstandard medical billing software formats and translates them into the standard EDI formats.
cleavage      The rapid rate of mitosis of a zygote immediately following fertilization.
clinical coordinator      The person associated with the medical assisting school that procures externship sites and qualifies them to ensure that they provide a thorough educational experience.
clinical diagnosis      A diagnosis based on the signs and symptoms of a disease or condition.
clinical drug trial      An internationally recognized research protocol designed to evaluate the efficacy or safety of drugs and to produce scientifically valid results.
Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments      A law enacted by Congress in 1988 that placed all laboratory facilities that conduct tests for diagnosing, preventing, or treating human disease or for assessing human health under federal regulations administered by the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
clitoris      Located anterior to the urethral opening in females. It contains erectile tissue and is rich in sensory nerves.
closed file      A file for a patient who has died, moved away, or for some other reason no longer consults the office for medical expertise.
closed posture      A position that conveys the feeling of not being totally receptive to what is being said; arms are often rigid or folded across the chest. 
cluster scheduling      The scheduling of similar appointments together at a certain time of the day or week.

coagulation      The process by which a clot forms in blood.

coccus      A spherical, round, or ovoid bacterium.
coccyx      A small, triangularshaped bone consisting of three to five fused vertebrae.
cochlea      A spiral-shaped canal in the inner ear that contains the hearing receptors.
code linkage      Analysis of the connection between diagnostic and procedural information in order to evaluate the medical necessity of the reported charges. This analysis is performed by insurance company representatives.
coinsurance      A fixed percentage of covered charges paid by the insured person after a deductible has been met.
colitis      Inflammation of the colon.
colonoscopy      A procedure used to determine the cause of diarrhea, constipation, bleeding, or lower abdominal pain by inserting a scope through the anus to provide direct visualization of the large intestine.
colony      A distinct group of microorganisms, visible with the naked eye, on the surface of a culture medium.
color family      A group of colors that share certain characteristics, such as warmth or coolness, allowing them to blend well together.
colposcopy      The examination of the vagina and cervix with an instrument called acolposcope to identify abnormal tissue, such as cancerous or precancerous cells.
common bile duct      Duct that carries bile to the duodenum. It is formed from the merger of the cystic and hepatic ducts.
compactible file      Files kept on rolling shelves that slide along permanent tracks in the floor and are stored close together or stacked when not in use.
complement      A protein present in serum that is involved in specific defenses.
complete proteins      Proteins that contain all nine essential amino acids.
complex carbohydrates      Long chains of sugar units; also known as polysaccharides.
complex inheritance      The inheritance of traits determined by multiple genes.
compliance plan      A process for finding, correcting, and preventing illegal medical office practices.
compound      A substance that is formed when two or more atoms of more than one element are chemically combined.
compound microscope      A microscope that uses two lenses to magnify the image created by condensed light focused through the object being examined.
computed tomography      A radiographic examination that produces a threedimensional, cross-sectional view of an area of the body; may be performed with or without a contrast medium.
conciseness      Brevity; the use of no unnecessary words.

concussion      A jarring injury to the brain; the most common type of head injury. 
conductive hearing loss      A type of hearing loss that occurs when sound waves cannot be conducted through the ear. Most types are temporary.
condyle      Rounded articular surface on a bone.
cones      Light-sensing nerve cells in the eye, at the posterior of the retina, that are sensitive to color, provide sharp images, and function only in bright light.
conflict      An opposition of opinions or ideas.
conjunctiva      The protective membrane that lines the eyelid and covers the anterior of the sclera, or the white of the eye.
conjunctivitis      A contagious infection of the conjunctiva caused by bacteria, viruses, and allergies. The symptoms may include discharge, red eyes, itching, and swollen eyelids; also commonly called pinkeye.
connective      A tissue type that is the framework of the body.
consumable      Able to be emptied or used up, as with supplies.
consumer education      The process by which the average person learns to make informed decisions about goods and services, including health care.
constructive criticism      A type of critique that is aimed at giving an individual feedback about his or her performance in order to improve that performance.

contagious      Having a disease that can easily be transmitted to others.

contaminated      Soiled or stained, particularly through contact with potentially infectious substances; no longer clean or sterile.

contract      A voluntary agreement between two parties in which specific promises are made.

contraindication      A symptom that renders use of a remedy or procedure inadvisable, usually because of risk

contrast medium      A substance that makes internal organs denser and blocks the passage of x-rays to photographic film. Introducing a contrast medium into certain structures or areas of the body can provide a clear image of organs and tissues and highlight indications of how well they are functioning.

controlled substance      A drug or drug product that is categorized as potentially dangerous and addictive and is strictly regulated by federal laws.

control sample      A specimen that has a known value; used as a comparison for test results on a patient sample.

contusion      A closed wound, or bruise.

conventions      A list of abbreviations, punctuation, symbols, typefaces, and instructional notes appearing in the beginning of the ICD-9.The items provide guidelines for using the code set.

convolutions      The ridges of brain matter between the sulci; also called gyri.

coordination of benefits      A legal principle that limits payment by insurance companies to 100% of the cost of covered expenses.

co-payment      A small fee paid by the insured at the time of a medical service rather than by the insurance company.

cornea      A transparent area on the front of the outer layer of the eye that acts as a window to let light into the eye.

coronary sinus      The large vein that receives oxygen-poor blood from the cardiac veins and empties it into the right atrium of the heart.
corpus callosum      A thick bundle of nerve fibers that connects the cerebral hemispheres.

corpus luteum      A ruptured follicle cell in the ovary following ovulation.

cortex      The outermost layer of the cerebrum.

cortisol      A steroid hormone that is released when a person is stressed. It decreases protein synthesis.

costal      Cartilage that attaches true ribs to the sternum.

counter check      A special bank check that allows a depositor to draw funds from his own account only, as when he has forgotten his checkbook.

courtesy title      A title used before a person's name, such as Dr., Mr., or Ms

cover sheet      A form sent with a fax that provides details about the transmission.

coxal      Pertaining to the bones of the pelvic girdle. The coax is composed of the ilium, ischium, and pubis.

cranial nerves      Peripheral nerves that originate from the brain.

crash cart      A rolling cart of emergency supplies and equipment.
creatine phosphate      A protein that stores extra phosphate groups.

credit      An extension of time to pay for services, which are provided on trust. 17

credit bureau      A company that provides information about the credit worthiness of a person seeking credit.

cricoid cartilage      A cartilage of the larynx that forms most of the posterior wall and a small part of the anterior wall.

crime      An offense against the state committed or omitted in violation of public law.

criminal law      Involves crimes against the state. When a state or federal law is violated, the government brings criminal charges against the alleged offender.

cross-reference      The notation within the ICD-9 of the word see after a main term in the index. The see reference means that the main term first checked is not correct. Another category must then be used.

cross-referenced      Filed in two or more places, with each place noted in each file; the exact contents of the file maybe duplicated, or a cross-reference form can be created, listing all the places to find the file.

cross-training      The acquisition of training in a variety of tasks and skills. 1

cryotherapy      The application of cold to a patient's body for therapeutic reasons. 43

cryosurgery      The use of extreme cold to destroy unwanted tissue, such as skin lesions. (42)

crystals      Naturally produced solids of definite form; commonly seen in urine specimens, especially those permitted to cool.

culture      In the sociological sense, a pattern of assumptions, beliefs, and practices that shape the way people think and act. To place a sample of a specimen in or on a substance that allows microorganisms to grow in order to identify the microorganisms present.

culture and sensitivity      A procedure that involves culturing a specimen and then testing the isolated bacteria's susceptibility (sensitivity) to certain antibiotics to determine which antibiotics would be most effective in treating an infection.

culture medium      A substance containing all the nutrients a particular type of microorganism needs to grow.

Current Procedural Terminology      A book with the most commonly used system of procedure codes. It is the HIPAA-required code set for physicians'procedures.

cursor      A blinking line or cube on a computer screen that shows where the next character that is keyed will appear.

Cushing's disease      A condition in which a person produces too muchcortisol or has used too many steroid hormones. Some ofthe signs and symptoms include buffalo hump obesity, a moon face, and abdominal stretch marks; also called hypercortisolism.

cuspids      The sharpest teeth;they act to tear food.

cyanosis      A bluish color of skin that results when the supply of oxygen is low in the blood. 24

cycle billing      A system that sends invoices to groups of patients every few days, spreading the work of billing all patients over the month while billing each patient only once.

cystic duct      The duct from the gallbladder that merges with the hepatic duct to form the common bile duct.

cytokines      A chemical secreted by T lymphocytes in response to an antigen. Cytokines increase T and B cell production, kill cells that have antigens, and stimulate red bone marrow to produce more white blood cells.

cytokinesis      Splitting of the cytoplasm during cell division.

cytoplasm      The watery intracellular substance that consists mostly of water, proteins, ions, and nutrients.

damages      Money paid as compensation for violating legal rights.

database      A collection of records created and stored on a computer.

dateline      The line at the top of a letter that contains the month, day,and year.

debridement      The removal of debris or dead tissue from a wound to expose healthy tissue.

decibel      A unit for measuring the relative intensity of sounds on a scale from 0 to 130.

deductible      A fixed dollar amount that must be paid by the insured before additional expenses are covered by an insurer.

deep      Anatomical term meaning closer to the inside of the body.

defamation      Damaging a person's reputation by making public statements that are both false and malicious.

defecation reflex      The relaxation of the anal sphincters so that feces can move through the anus in the process of elimination.

deflection      A peak or valley on an electrocardiogram.

dehydration      The condition that results from a lack of adequate water in the body.

dementia      The deterioration of mental faculties from organic disease of the brain.

dendrite      A type of nerve fiber that is short and branches near the cell body. Its function is to receive information from the neuron.

deoxyhemoblobin      A type of hemoglobin that is not carrying oxygen. It is darker red in color than hemoglobin.

dependent      A person who depends on another person for financial support.

depolarization      The loss of polarity, or opposite charges inside and outside; the electrical impulse that initiates a chain reaction resulting in contraction.

depolarized      A state in which sodium ions flow to the inside of the cell membrane, making the outside less positive. Depolarization occurs when a neuron responds to stimuli such as heat, pressure, or chemicals.

depression      The lowering of a body part.

dermatitis      Inflammation of the skin.

dermatologist      A specialist who diagnoses and treats diseases of the skin, hair, and nails.

dermis      The middle layer of the skin, which contains connective tissue, nerve endings, hair follicles,sweat glands, and oil glands.

descending colon      The segment of the large intestine after the transverse colon that descends the left side of the abdominal cavity.
descending tracts      Tracts of the spinal cord that carry motor information from the brain to muscles and glands.

detrusor muscle      A smooth muscle that contracts to push urine from the bladder into the urethra.

diabetes mellitus      Any of several related endocrine disorders characterized by an elevated level of glucose in the blood, caused by a deficiency of insulin or insulin resistance at the cellular level.

diagnosis      The primary condition for which a patient is receiving care.

diagnosis code      The way a diagnosis is communicated to the third-party payer on the healthcare claim. (16)

diagnostic radiology      The use of x-ray technology to determine the cause of a patient's symptoms.

diapedesis      The squeezing of a cell through a blood vessel wall.

diaphragm      A muscle that separates the thoracic and abdominopelvic cavities.

diaphysis      The shaft of a long bone.
diastolic pressure      The blood pressure measured when the heart relaxes.

diathermy      A type of heat therapy in which a machine produces high-frequency waves that achieve deep heat penetration in muscle tissue.

diencephalon      A structure that includes the thalamus and the hypothalamus. It is located between the cerebral hemispheres and is superior to the brain stem.

differential diagnosis      The process of determining the correct diagnosis when two or more diagnoses are possible.

differently abled      Having a condition that limits or changes a person's abilities and may require special accommodations.

diffusion      The movement of a substance from an area of high concentration to an area of low concentration.

digital examination      Part of a physical examination in which the physician inserts one or two fingers of one hand into the opening of a body canal such as the vagina or the rectum; used to palpate canal and related structures.
diluent      A liquid used to dissolve and dilute another substance,such as a drug.

disaccharide      A type of carbohydrate that is a simple sugar.

disability insurance      Insurance that provides a monthly, prearranged payment to an individual who cannot work as the result of an injury or disability.

disbursement      Any payment of funds made by the physician's office for goods and services.

disclaimer      A statement of denial of legal liability.

disclosure      The release of, the transfer of, the provision of access to, or the divulgence in any manner of patient information.

disclosure statement      A written description of agreed terms of payment; also called a federal Truth in Lending statement

disinfectant      A cleaning product applied to instruments and equipment to reduce or eliminate infectious organisms; not used on human tissue.

disinfection      The destruction of infectious agents on an object or surface by direct application of chemical or physical means.

dislocation      The displacement of a bone end from a joint.

dispense      To distribute a drug, in a properly labeled container,to a patient who is to use it. (50)


distal convoluted tubule      The last twisted section of the renal tubule; it is located after the loop of Henle. Several of these tubules merge together to form collecting ducts.

distribution      The biochemical process of transporting a drug from its administration site in the body to its site of action.

diverticulitis      Inflammation of the diverticuli, which are abnormal dilations in the intestine.

DNA      A nucleic acid that contains the genetic information of cells.

doctor of osteopathy      A doctor who focuses special attention on the musculoskeletal system and uses hands and eyes to identify and adjust structural problems,supporting the body's natural tendency toward health and selfhealing.

documentation      The recording of information in a patient's medical record; includes detailed notes about each contact with the patient and about the treatment plan, patient progress,and treatment outcomes.

dorsal      See posterior.

dorsal root      A portion of a spinal nerve that contains axons of sensory neurons only.

dorsiflexion      Pointing the toes upward.

dosage      The size, frequency,and number of doses.

dose      The amount of a drug given or taken at one time.

double-booking system      A system of scheduling in which two or more patients are booked for the same appointment slot.
douche      Vaginal irrigation,which can be used to administer vaginal medication in liquid form.

drainage catheter      A type of catheter used to withdraw fluids.

dressings      Sterile materials used to cover a surgical or other wound.

ductus arteriosus      The connection in the fetus between the pulmonary trunk and the aorta.

ductus venosus      A blood vessel that allows most of the blood to bypass the liver in the fetus.

duodenum      The first section of the small intestine.

durable item      A piece of equipment that is used repeatedly, such as a telephone, computer, or examination table; contrast with expendable item.

durable power of attorney      A document naming the person who will make decisions regarding medical care on behalf of another person if that person becomes unable to do so.

dwarfism      A condition in which too little growth hormone is produced, resulting in an abnormally small stature.

dysmenorrhea      Severe menstrual cramps that limit daily activity.

dyspnea      Difficult or painful breathing.

ear ossicles      Three tiny bones called the malleus, the incus, and the stapes located in the middle ear cavity. They are the smallest bones of the body.

eccrine gland      The most numerous type of sweat gland.Eccrine sweat glands produce a watery type of sweat and are activated primarily by heat.

echocardiography      A procedure that tests the structure and function of the heart through the use of reflected sound waves, or echoes.

E code      A type of code in the ICD-9. E-codes identify the external causes of injuries and poisoning. (16)

ectoderm      The primary germ layer that gives rise to nervous tissue and some epithelial tissue.

eczema      Inflammatory condition of the skin.

edema      An excessive buildup of fluid in body tissue.

editing      The process of ensuring that a document is accurate, clear, and complete; free of grammatical errors; organized logically; and written in the appropriate style.

effectors      Muscles and glands that are stimulated by motor neurons in the peripheral nervous system.

efferent arterioles      Structures that deliver blood to peritubular capillaries that are wrapped around the renal tubules of the nephron in the kidneys.

efficacy      The therapeutic value of a procedure or therapy, such as a drug.

efficiency      The ability to produce a desired result with the least effort, expense, and >waste. (8)

electrocardiogram      The tracing made by an electrocardiograph.

electrocardiograph      An instrument that measures and displays the waves of electrical impulses responsible for the cardiac cycle.

electrocardiography      The process by which a graphic pattern is created to reflect the electrical impulses generated by the heart as it pumps.

electrocauterization      The use of a needle, probe,or loop heated by electric current to remove growths such as warts, to stop bleeding, and to control nosebleeds that either will not subside or continually recur.

electrodes      Sensors that detect electrical activity.
electroencephalography      A procedure that records the electrical activity of the brain as a tracing called an electroencephalogram, or EEG, on a strip of graph paper.

electrolytes      Substances that carry electrical current through the movement of ions.

electromyography      A procedure in which needle electrodes are inserted into some of the skeletal muscles and a monitor records the nerve impulses and measures conduction time; used to detect neuromuscular disorders or nerve damage.

electron microscope      A microscope that uses a beam of electrons instead of a beam of light; can magnify an image several million times.

electronic data interchange      Transmitting electronic medical insurance claims from providers to payers using the necessary information systems.

electronic mail      A method of sending and receiving messages through a computer >network; commonly known as e-mail.

electronic transaction record      The standardized codes and formats used for the exchange of medical data.

elevation      The raising of a body part.

embolism      An obstruction in a blood vessel.

embolus      A portion of a thrombus that breaks off and moves through the bloodstream.

embryonic period      The second through eighth weeks of pregnancy.

E/M code      Evaluation and management codes that are often considered the most important of all CPT codes. The E/M section guidelines explain how to code different levels of services.

empathy      Identification with or sensitivity to another person's feelings and problems.

employment contract      A written agreement of employment terms between employer and employee that describes the employee's duties and the considerations (money, benefits, and so on) to be given by the employer in exchange.

enclosure      Materials that are included in the same envelope as the primary letter.

endocardium      The innermost layer of the heart.

endochondral      A type of ossification in which bones start out as cartilage models.

endocrine gland      A gland that secretes its products directly into tissue, fluid, or blood.

endocrinologist      A specialist who diagnoses and treats disorders of the endocrine system, which regulates many body functions by circulating hormones that are secreted by glands throughout the body. (2)

endoderm      The primary germ layer that gives rise to epithelial tissues only.

endogenous infection      An infection in which an abnormality or malfunction in routine body processes causes normally beneficial or harmless microorganisms to become pathogenic.

endolymph      A fluid in the inner ear. When this fluid moves,it activates hearing and equilibrium receptors.

endometriosis      A condition in which tissues that make up the lining of the uterus grow outside the uterus.

endometrium      The innermost layer of the uterus. It undergoes significant changes during the menstrual cycle.

endomysium      A connective tissue covering that surrounds individual muscle cells.

endorse      To sign or stamp the back of a check with the proper identification of the person or organization to whom the check is made out, to prevent the check from being cashed if it is stolen or lost.

endoscopy      Any procedure in which a scope is used to visually inspect a canal or cavity within the body.
endosteum      A membrane that lines the medullary cavity and the holes of spongy bone.

enunciation      Clear and distinct speaking.

enzyme immunoassay      The detection of substances by immunological methods. This method involves an antigen, an antibody specific for the antigen, and a second antibody conjugated to an enzyme.

enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay      A blood test that confirms the presence of antibodies developed by the body's immune system in response to an initial HIV infection.

eosinophil      A type of granular leukocyte that captures invading bacteria and antigen-antibody complexes through phagocytosis.

epicardium      The outermost layer of the wall of the heart. Also known as the visceral pericardium.

epidermis      The most superficial layer of the skin.

epididymis      An elongated structure attached to the back of the testes and in which sperm cells mature.

epididymitis      Inflammation of an epididymis.Most cases result from infection.

epiglottic cartilage      A cartilage of the larynx that forms the framework of the epiglottis.
epiglottis      The flaplike structure that closes off the larynx during swallowing.

epilepsy      A condition that occurs when parts of the brain receive a burst of electrical signals that disrupt normal brain function; also called seizures.

epimysium      A thin covering that is just deep to the fascia of a muscle. It surrounds the entire muscle.

epinephrine      An injectable medication used to treat anaphylaxis by causing vasoconstriction to increase blood pressure. A hormone secreted from the adrenal glands. It increases heart rate, breathing rate, and blood pressure.

epiphyseal disk      A plate of cartilage between the epiphysis and the diaphysis.

epiphysis      The expanded end of a long bone.

epistaxis      Nosebleed.

epithelial tissue      A tissue type that lines the tubes, hollow organs, and cavities of the body.

erectile tissue      A highly specialized tissue located in the shaft of the penis. It fills with blood to achieve an erection.

erythema      Redness of the skin.

erythroblastosis fetalis      A serious anemia that develops in a fetus with Rhpositive blood as a result of antibodies in an Rh-negative mother's body.

erythrocytes      Red blood cells.

erythrocyte sedimentation rate      The rate at which red blood cells, the heaviest blood component, settle to the bottom of a blood sample.

erythropoietin      A hormone secreted by the kidney and is responsible for regulating the production of red blood cells.

esophageal hiatus      Hole in the diaphragm through which the esophagus passes.

established patient      A patient who has seen the physician within the past three years. This determination is important when using E/M codes.

estrogen      A female sex hormone;when produced during ovulation,estrogen causes a buildup of the lining of the uterus (womb) to prepare it for a possible pregnancy.

ethics      General principles of right and wrong, as opposed to requirements of law.

ethmoid      Bones located between the sphenoid and nasal bone that form part of the floor of the cranium.

etiologic agent      A living microorganism or its toxin that may cause human disease.

etiquette      Good manners.

eustachian tube      An opening in the middle ear, leading to the back of the throat, that helps equalize air pressure on both sides of the eardrum.

eversion      Turning the sole of the foot laterally.
exclusion      An expense that is not covered by a particular insurance policy, such as an eye examination or dental care.

excretion      The elimination of waste by a discharge; in drug metabolism, the manner in which a drug is eliminated from the body.

exocrine gland      A gland that secretes its product into a duct.

exogenous infection      An infection that is caused by the introduction of a pathogen from outside the body.

expendable item      An item that is used and must then be restocked; also known collectively as supplies. Contrast with durable item.

expiration      The process of breathing out; also called exhalation.

expressed contract      A contract clearly stated in written or spoken words.

extension      An unbending or straightening movement of the two elements of a jointed body part.

external auditory canal      Canal that carries sound waves to the tympanic membrane;commonly called the ear canal.

externship      A period of practical work experience performed by a medical assisting student in a physician's office, hospital, or other health-care facility.

extrinsic eye muscles      The skeletal muscles that move the eyeball.

facsimile machine      A piece of office equipment used to send a facsimile, or fax,over telephone lines from one modem to another; more commonly called a fax machine.

facultative      Able to adapt to different conditions; in microbiology, able to grow in environments either with or without oxygen.

Fahrenheit      One of two common scales used for measuring temperature; measured in degrees Fahrenheit, or °F.

fallopian tubes      Tubes that extend from the uterus on each side and that open near an ovary.

family practitioner      A physician who does not specialize in a branch of medicine but treats all types and ages of patients; also called a general practitioner.

fascia      A structure that covers entire skeletal muscles and separates them from each other.

fascicle      Sections of a muscle divided by connective tissue called perimysium.

febrile      Having a body temperature above one's normal range.

feces      Material found in the large intestine and made from leftover chyme. Faces are eventually eliminated through the anus.

feedback      Verbal and nonverbal evidence that a message was received and understood.

fee-for-service      A major type of health plan. It repays policyholders for the costs of health care that are due to illness and accidents.

fee schedule      A list of the costs of common services and procedures performed by a physician.

felony      A serious crime, such as murder or rape, that is punishable by imprisonment. In certain crimes, a felony is punishable by death.

femoral      Relating to the femur or thigh.

femur      The bone in the upper leg; commonly called the thigh bone.

fenestrated drape      A drape that has a round or slitlike opening that provides access to the surgical site.

fertilization      The process in which an egg unites with a sperm.

fetal period      A period that begins at week nine of pregnancy and continues through delivery of the offspring.

fiber      The tough, stringy part of vegetables and grains, which is not absorbed by the body but aids in a variety of bodily functions.

fibrinogen      A protein found in plasma that is important for blood clotting.

fibroid      A benign tumor in the uterus composed of fibrous tissue.

fibromyalgia      A condition that exhibits chronic pain primarily in joints, muscles, and tendons.
fibula      The lateral bone of the lower leg.

file guide      A heavy cardboard or plastic insert used to identify a group of file folders in a file drawer.

filtration      A process that separates substances into solutions by forcing them across a membrane.

fimbriae      Fringe-like structures that border the entrances of the fallopian tubes.

first morning urine specimen      A urine specimen that is collected after a night's sleep; contains greater concentrations of substances that collect over time than specimens taken during the day.

fixative      A solution sprayed on a slide immediately after the specimen is applied. It is used to preserve and hold the cells in place until a microscopic examination is performed.

flexion      A bending movement of the two elements of a jointed body part.

floater      A nonsterile assistant who is free to move about the room during surgery and attend to unsterile needs.

fluidotherapy      A technique for stimulating healing, particularly in the hands and feet, by placing the affected body part in a container of glass beads that are heated and agitated with hot air.

follicle      An accessory organ of the skin that is found in the dermis and the sites at which hairs emerge.

follicle-stimulating hormone      A hormone that in females stimulates the production of estrogen by the ovaries; in males, it stimulates sperm production.

follicular cells      Small cells contained in the primordial follicle along with a large cell called a primary oocyte.

folliculitis      Inflammation of the hair follicle.

fomite      An inanimate object,such as clothing, body fluids, water,or food, that may be contaminatedwith infectious organisms and thus serve to transmit disease.

fontanel      The soft spot in an infant's skull that consists of tough membranes that connect to incompletely developed bone.

food exchange      A unit of food in a particular food category that provides the same amounts of protein, fat, and carbohydrates as all other units of food in that category.

foramen magnum      The large hole in the occipital bone that allows the brain to connect to the spinal cord.

foramen ovale      A hole in the fetal heart between the right atrium and the left atrium.

forced vital capacity      The greatest volume of air that a person is able to expel when performing rapid, forced expiration.

formalin      A dilute solution of formaldehyde used to preserve biological specimens.

formed elements      Red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets; comprise 45% of blood volume.

formulary      An insurance plan's list of approved prescription medications.

fraud      An act of deception that is used to take advantage of another person or entity.

fracture      Any break in a bone.

frequency      The number of complete fluctuations of energy per second in the form of waves.

frontal      Anatomical term that refers to the plane that divides the body into anterior and posterior portions. Also called coronal.

full-block letter style      A letter format in which all lines begin flush left; also called block style.

functional résumé      A résumé that highlights specialty areas of a person's accomplishments and strengths.

fungus      A eukaryotic organism that has a rigid cell wall at some stage in the life cycle.

gait      The way a person walks, consisting of two phases: stance and swing.

ganglia      Collections of neuron cell bodies outside the central nervous system.

gastic juice      Secretions from the stomach lining that begin the process of digesting protein.

gastritis      Inflammation of the stomach lining.

gastroenterologist      A specialist who diagnoses and treats disorders of the entire gastrointestinal tract, including the stomach, intestines, and associated digestive organs.

gastroesophageal reflux disease      A condition that occurs when stomach acids are pushed into the esophagus and cause heartburn.

gene      A segment of DNA that determines a body trait.

general physical examination      An examination performed by a physician to confirm a patient's health or to diagnose a medical problem.

generic name      A drug's official name.

gerontologist      A specialist who studies the aging process.

giantism      A condition in which too much growth hormone is produced in childhood, resulting in an abnormally increased stature

glans penis      A coneshaped structure at the end of the penis.

glaucoma      A condition in which too much pressure is created in the eye by excessive aqueous humor. This excess pressure can lead to permanent damage of the optic nerves, resulting in blindness.

global period      The period of time that is covered for follow-up care of a procedure or surgical service.

globulins      Plasma proteins that transport lipids and some vitamins.

glomerular capsule      A capsule that surrounds the glomerulus of the kidney.

glomerular filtrate      The fluid remaining in the glomerular capsule after glomerular filtration.
glomerular filtration      The process by which urine forms in the kidneys as blood moves through a tight ball of capillaries called the glomerulus.

glomerulonephritis      An inflammation of the glomeruli of the kidney.

glomerulus      A group of capillaries in the renal corpuscle.

glottis      The opening between the vocal cords.

glucagon      A hormone that increases glucose concentrations in the bloodstream and slows down protein synthesis.

glycogen      An excess of glucose that is stored in the liver and in skeletal muscle.

glycosuria      The presence of significant levels of glucose in the urine.

gonads      The reproductive organs; namely, in women, the ovaries,and in men, the testes.

gonadotropin-releasing hormone      Hormone that stimulates the anterior pituitary gland to release follicle stimulating hormone (FSH).

goniometer      A protractor device that measures range of motion.

gout      A medical condition characterized by an elevated uric acid level and recurrent acute arthritis.

G-protein      A substance that causes enzymes in the cell to activate following the activation of the hormone-receptor complex in the cell membrane.

gram-negative      Referring to bacteria that lose their purple color when a decolorizer has been added during a Gram's stain.

gram-positive      Referring to bacteria that retain their purple color after a decolorizer has been added during a Gram's stain.

Gram's stain      A method of staining that differentiates bacteria according to the chemical composition of their cell walls.

granular leukocyte      A type of leukocyte (white blood cell) with a segmented nucleus and granulated cytoplasm; also known as a polymorphonuclear leukocyte.

granulocyte      See granular leukocyte.

Grave's disease      A disorder in which a person develops antibodies that attack the thyroid gland.

gray matter      The inner tissue of the brain and the spinal cord that is darker in color than white matter. It contains all the bodies and dendrites of nerve cells.
gross earnings      The total amount an employee earns before deductions.

growth hormone      A hormone that stimulates an increase in the size of the muscles and bones of the body.

gustatory receptors      Taste receptors that are found on taste buds.

gynecologist      A specialist who performs routine physical care and examinations of the female reproductive system.

gyri      The ridges of brain matter between the sulci; also called convolutions.

hapten      Foreign substances in the body too small to start an immune response by hemselves.

HCPCS Level II codes      Codes that cover many supplies such as sterile trays, drugs, and durable medical equipment; also referred to as national codes. They also cover services and procedures not included in the CPT.

hairy leukoplakia      A white lesion on the tongue associated with AIDS.
hard copy      A readable paper copy or printout of information.

hardware      The physical components of a computer system,including the monitor, keyboard, and printer.

hazard label      A shortened version of the Material Safety Data Sheet; permanently affixed to a hazardous substance container.

Health Care Common Procedure Coding System      A coding system developed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that is used in coding services for Medicare patients.

health maintenance organization(HMO)      A health-care organization that provides specific services to individuals and their dependents who are enrolled in the plan. Doctors who enroll in an HMO agree to provide certain services in exchange for a prepaid fee.

helper T-cells      White blood cells that are a key component of the body's immune system and that work in coordination with other white blood cells to combat infection.

hematemesis      The vomiting of blood.

hematocrit      The percentage of the volume of a sample made up of red blood cells after the sample has been spun in a centrifuge.

hematology      The study of blood.

hematoma      A swelling caused by blood under the skin.

hematuria      The presence of blood in the urine.

hemocytoblast      Cells of the red bone marrow that produce most red blood cells.

hemoglobin      A protein that contains iron and bonds with and carries oxygen to cells; the main component of erythrocytes.
hemoglobinuria      The presence of free hemoglobin in the urine; a rare condition caused by transfusion reactions, malaria, drug reactions, snakebites, or severe burns.
hemolysis      The rupturing of red blood cells, which releases hemoglobin.

hemorrhoids      Varicose veins of the rectum or anus.
hemostasis      The stoppage of bleeding.

hepatic duct      A duct that leaves the liver carrying bile and merges with the cystic duct to form the common bile duct.

hepatic lobule      Smaller divisions within the lobes of the liver.

hepatic portal system      The collection of veins carrying blood to the liver.

hepatic portal vein      A blood vessel that carries blood from the other digestive organs to the hepatic lobules.

hepatitis      Inflammation of the liver usually caused by viruses or toxins.

hepatocytes      The cells within the lobules of the liver. Hepatocytes process nutrients in the blood and make bile.

hernia      The protrusion of an organ through the wall that usually contains it, such as a hiatal oringuinal hernia.

herpes simplex      A medical condition characterized by an eruption of one or more groups of vesicles on the lips or genitalia.

herpes zoster      A medical condition characterized by an eruption of a group of vesicles on one side of the body following a nerve root.
hierarchy      A term that pertains to Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of needs. This hierarchy states that human beings are motivated by unsatisfied needs and that certain lower needs must be satisfied before higher needs can be met.

hilum      The indented side of a lymph node. The entrance of the renal sinus that contains the renal artery, renal vein, and ureter.

HIPAA      A set of regulations whose goals include the following: (1) improving the portability and continuity of healthcare coverage in group and individual markets; (2) combating waste, fraud, and abuse in health-care insurance and health-care delivery; (3) promoting the use of a medical savings account; (4) improving access to long-term care services and coverage; and (5) simplifying the administration of health insurance.
Holter monitor      An electrocardiography device that includes a small portable cassette recorder worn around a patient's waist or on a shoulder strap to record the heart's electrical activity.

homeostasis      A balanced, stable state within the body.

homologous chromosome      Members in each pair of chromosomes.

hormone      A chemical secreted by a cell that affects the functions of other cells.

hospice      Volunteers who work with terminally ill patients and their families.

human chorionic gonadotropin      A hormone secreted by cells of the embryo after implantation. It maintains the corpus luteum in the ovary so it will continue to secrete estrogen and progesterone.

human immunodeficiency virus      A retrovirus that gradually destroys the body's immune system and causes AIDS.

humerus      The bone of the upper arm.

humors      Fluids of the body.

hydrotherapy      The therapeutic use of water to treat physical problems.
hyoid      The bone that anchors the tongue.
hyperextension      Extension of a body part past the normal anatomical position.

hyperglycemia      High blood sugar.

hyperopia      A condition that occurs when light entering the eye is focused behind the retina; commonly called farsightedness.

hyperpnea      Abnormally deep, rapid breathing.

hyperreflexia      Reflexes that are stronger than normal reflexes.

hypertension      High blood pressure.

hyperventilation      The condition of breathing rapidly and deeply. Hyperventilating decreases the amount of carbon dioxide in the blood.

hypodermis      The subcutaneous layer of the skin that is largely made of adipose tissue.

hypoglycemia      Low blood sugar.

hyporeflexia      A condition of decreased reflexes.

hypotension      Low blood pressure.

hypothalamus      It maintains homeostasis by egulating many vital activities such as heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate. A region of the diencephalon.

hypovolemic shock      A state of shock resulting from insufficient blood volume in the circulatory system.

hysterectomy      Surgical removal of the uterus.

ICD-9      See International Classificationof Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification.

icon      A pictorial image; on a computer screen, a graphic symbol that identifies a menu choice.

identification line      A line at the bottom of a letter containing the letter writer's initials and the typist's initials.

ileocecal sphincter      A structure that controls the movement of chime from the ileum to the cecum.
ileum      The last portion of the small intestine. It is directly attached to the large intestine.

ilium      The most superior part of the hip bone. It is broad and flaring.

immunity      The condition of being resistant or not susceptible to pathogens and the diseases they cause.

immunization      The administration of a vaccine or toxoid to protect susceptible individuals from communicable diseases.

immunocompromised      Having an impaired or weakened immune system.

immunofluorescent antibody      A blood test used to confirm enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) test results for HIV infection.

immunoglobulins      A class of structurally related proteins that include IgG, IgA, IgM, and IgE; also called antibodies.

impetigo      A contagious skin infection usually caused by germs commonly called staph and strep.

implied contract      A contract that is created by the acceptance or conduct of the parties rather than the written word.

impotence      A disorder in which a male cannot maintain an erect penis to complete sexual intercourse; also called erectile dysfunction.
inactive file      A file used infrequently.

incision      A surgical wound made by cutting into body tissue.

incisors      The most medial teeth. They act as chisels to bite off food.

incomplete proteins      Proteins that lack one or more of the essential amino acids.

incontinence      The involuntary leakage of urine.
incus      A small bone in the middle ear, located between the malleus and the stapes; also called theanvil.

indication      The purpose or reason for using a drug, as approved by the FDA.

induration      The process of hardening or of becomming hard.

infection      The presence of a pathogen in or on the body.

infectious waste      Waste that can be dangerous to those who handle it or to the environment; includes human waste, human tissue, and body fluids as well as potentially hazardous waste, such as used needles, scalpels, and dressings, and cultures of human cells.

inferior      Anatomical term meaning below or closer to the feet;also called caudal.

inflammation      The body's reaction when tissue becomes injured or infected. The four cardinal signs are redness, heat, pain, and swelling.

informed consent form      A form that verifies that a patient understands the offered treatment and its possible outcomes or side effects.

infundibulum      The funnel-like end of the uterine tube near an ovary. It catches the secondary oocyte as it leaves the ovary.

infusion      A slow drip,as of an intravenous solution into a vein.
inner cell mass  
     A group of cells in a blastocyte that gives rise to an embryo.
     Matter that generally does not contain carbon and hydrogen.
     An attachment site of a skeletal muscle that moves when a muscle contracts.
     The visual examination of the patient's entire body and overall appearance.

     The act of breathing in; also called inhalation.
     A hormone that regulates the amount of sugar in the blood by facilitating its entry into the cells.
interactive pager  
     A pager designed for two-way communication. The pager screen displays a printed message and allows the physician to respond by way of a mini keyboard.
intercalated disc  
     A disk that connects groups of cardiac muscles. This disc allows the fibers in that group to contract and relax together.
     A protein that blocks viruses from infecting cells.
interim room  
     A room off the patient reception area and away from the examination rooms for occasions when patients require privacy.
International Classification of Diseases,Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification(ICD-9)  
     Code set that is based on a system maintained by the World Health Organization of the United Nations. The use of the ICD-9 codes in the health-care industry is mandated by HIPAA for reporting patients' diseases, conditions, and signs and symptoms.
     A global network of computers.

     A structure found only in the central nervous system that functions to link sensory and motor neurons together.
     A doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating problems related to the internal organs.

interpersonal skills  
     Attitudes, qualities, and abilities that influence the level of success and satisfaction achieved in interacting with other people.
     The state of a cell carrying out its normal daily functions and not dividing.
interstitial cell  
     A cell located between the seminiferous tubules that is responsible for making testosterone.
intestinal lipase  
     An enzyme that digests fat.
     Within the upper layers of the skin.
intradermal test  
     An allergy test in which dilute solutions of allergens are introduced into the skin of the inner forearm or upper back with a fine-gauge needle.
     A type of ossification in which bones begin as tough fibrous membranes.
     Within muscle; an IM injection allows administration of a larger amount of a drug than a subcutaneous injection allows.
     Taking place during surgery.
intravenous IV  
     Injected directly into a vein.
intravenous pyelography  
     A radiologic procedure in which the doctor injects a contrast medium into a vein and takes a series of x-rays of the kidneys, ureters, and bladder to evaluate urinary system abnormalities or trauma to the urinary system; also known as excretory urography.
intrinsic factor  
     A substance secreted by parietal cells in the lining of the stomach. It is necessary for vitamin B12 absorption.
     Referring to a procedure in which a catheter, wire, or other foreign object is introduced into a blood vessel or organ through the skin or a body orifice. Surgical asepsis is required during all invasive tests.
     A list of supplies used regularly and the quantities in stock.
     Turning the sole of the foot medially.
     A bill for materials or services received by or services performed by the practice.
     Positively or negatively charged particles.
     The colored part of the eye, made of muscular tissue that contracts and relaxes, altering the size of the pupil.
     A structure that forms the lower part of the hip bone.
islets of Langerhans  
     Structures in the pancreas that secrete insulin and glucagon into the bloodstream.
     A detailed travel plan listing dates and times for specific transportation arrangements and events, the location of meetings and lodgings, and phone numbers.
     A condition characterized by yellowness of the skin, eyes, mucous membranes, and excretions; occurs during the second stage of hepatitis infection.
     The mid-portion and the majority of the small intestine.
     The process of logging charges and receipts in a chronological list each day; used in the single-entry system of bookkeeping.

juxtaglomerular apparatus  
     A structure contained in the nephron and made up of the macula densa and juxtaglomerular cells.
juxtaglomerular cells  
     Enlarged smooth muscle cells in the walls of either the afferent or efferent arterioles.
Kaposi's sarcoma  
     Abnormal tissue occurring in the skin, and sometimes in the lymph nodes and organs, manifested by reddishpurple to dark blue patches or spots on the skin.
     A tough, hard protein contained in skin, hair, and nails.
     The most common cell type in the epidermis of the skin.
     The act of inputting or entering information into a computer.
KOH mount  
     A type of mount used when a physician suspects a patient has a fungal infection of the skin, nails, or hair and to which potassium hydroxide is added to dissolve the keratin in cell walls.
Krebs cycle  
     Also called the citric acid cycle. This cycle generates ATP for muscle cells.
KUB radiography  
     The process of x-raying the abdomen to help assess the size, shape, and position of the urinary organs; evaluate urinary system diseases or disorders; or determine the presence of kidney stones. It can also be helpful in determining the position of an intrauterine device (IUD) or in locating foreign bodies in the digestive tract; also called a flat plate of the abdomen.
     A deformity of the spine characterized by a bent-over position; more commonly called humpback.
     Information provided with a drug, including FDA approved indications and the form of the drug.
labia majora  
     The rounded folds of adipose tissue and skin that serve to protect the other female reproductive organs.
labia minora  
     The folds of skin between the labia majora.
     The inner ear.
     A jagged, open wound in the skin that can extend down into the underlying tissue.
lacrimal apparatus  
     A structure that consists of the lacrimal glands and nasolacrimal ducts.
lacrimal gland  
     A gland in the eye that produces tears.
     An enzyme that digests sugars.
lactic acid  
     Awaste product that must be released from the cell. It is produced when a cell is low on oxygen and converts pyruvic acid.
     Substance secreted by the placenta that stimulates the enlargement of the mammary glands.
     Holes in the matrix of bone that hold osteocytes.
lag phase  
     The initial phase of wound healing, in which bleeding is reduced as blood vessels in the affected area constrict.
     Layers of bone surrounding the canals of osteons.
     A small, disposable instrument with a sharp point used to puncture the skin and make a shallow incision; used for capillary puncture.

     The portion of the pharynx behind the larynx.
     The part of the respiratory tract between the pharynx and the trachea that is responsible for voice production; also called the voice box.
laser printer  
     A high-resolution printer that uses a technology similar to that of a photocopier. It is the fastest type of computer printer and produces the highest-quality output.

     A directional term that means farther away from the midline of the body.
lateral file  
     A horizontal filing cabinet that features doors that flip up and a pull-out drawer, where files are arranged with sides facing out. Earning body, such as the federal government.
     A rule of conduct established and enforced by an authority or gov
law of agency  
     A law stating that an employee is considered to be acting on the physician's behalf while performing professional duties.
     A view of a specific area of the heart on an electrocardiogram.
     To rent an item or piece of equipment.
legal custody  
     The court-decreed right to have control over a child's upbringing and to take responsibility for the child's care, including health care.
     A clear, circular disc located in the eye, just posterior to the iris, that can change shape to help the eye focus images of objects that are near or far away.

     Formal business stationery, with the doctor's (or office's) name and address printed at the top, used for correspondence with patients, colleagues, and vendors.
     A medical condition in which bone marrow produces a large number of white blood cells that are not normal.

     White blood cells.
     A white blood cell count that is above normal.
     A white blood cell count that is below normal.
     Legally responsible.
liability insurance  
     A type of insurance that covers injuries caused by the insured or injuries that occurred on the insured's property.
lifetime maximum benefit  
     The total sum that a health plan will pay out over the patient's life.
     A tough, fibrous band of tissue that connects bone to bone.
     Suture material.
limited check  
     A check that is void after a certain time limit; commonly used for payroll.
lingual frenulum  
     A flap of mucosa that holds the body of the tongue to the floor of the oral cavity.
lingual tonsils  
     Two lumps of lymphatic tissue on the back of the tongue that act to destroy bacteria and viruses.
linoleic acid  
     An essential fatty acid found in corn and sunflower oils.
     Large molecules that are fat-soluble on the inside and water-soluble on the outside and carry lipids such as cholesterol and triglycerides through the bloodstream.
living will  
     A legal document addressed to a patient's family and health-care providers stating what type of treatment the patient wishes or does not wish to receive if he becomes terminally ill, unconscious, or permanently comatose; sometimes called an advance directive.
     The frontal, parietal, temporal, or occipital regions of the cerebral hemisphere. 
locum tenens  
     A substitute physician hired to see patients while the regular physician is away from the office.
loop of Henle  
     The portion of the renal tubule that curves back toward the renal corpuscle and twists again to become the distal convoluted tubule.
lumbar enlargement  
     The thickening of the spinal cord in the low back region.
     The white half-moon–shaped area at the base of a nail
lupus erythematosis  
     An autoimmune disorder in which a person produces antibodies that target the person's own cells and tissues.
luteinizing hormone  
     Hormone that in females stimulates ovulation and the production of estrogen; in males, it stimulates the production of testosterone.
     A pale fluid found between cells that is collected by the lymphatic system and returned to the bloodstream.
     The blockage of lymphatic vessels that results in the swelling of tissue from the accumulation of lymphatic fluid. 
     An agranular leukocyte formed in lymphatic tissue. Lymphocytes are generally small. See T lymphocyte and Blymphocyte.
    An enzyme in tears that destroys pathogens on the surface of the eye.

macrophage      A type of phagocytic cell found in the liver, spleen, lungs, bone marrow, and connective tissue. Macrophages play several roles in humoral and cellmediated immunity, including presenting the antigens to the lymphocytes involved in these defenses; also known as monocytes while in the bloodstream.
macula densa      An area of the distal convoluted tubule that touches afferent and efferent arterioles.
macular degeneration      A progressive disease that usually affects people over the age of 50. It occurs when the retina no longer receives an adequate blood supply.
magnetic resonance imaging      A viewing technique that uses a powerful magnetic field to produce an image of internal body structures.
maintenance contract      A contract that specifies when a piece of equipment will be cleaned, checked for worn parts, and repaired.
major histocompatibility complex      A large protein complex that plays a role in T cell activation.
malignant      A type of tumor or neoplasm that is invasive and destructive and that tends to metastasize; it is commonly known as cancerous.
malleus      A small bone in the middle ear that is attached to the eardrum; also called the hammer.
malpractice claim      A lawsuit brought by a patient against a physician for errors in diagnosis or treatment.
maltase      An enzyme that digests sugars.
mammary glands      Accessory organs of the female reproductive system that secrete milk after pregnancy.
mammography      X-ray examination of the breasts. 
managed care organization      A health-care business that, through mergers and buyouts, can deliver health care more cost-effectively.

mandible      A bone that forms the lower portion of the jaw.

manipulation      The systematic movement of a patient’s body parts.
marrow      A substance that is contained in the medullary cavity. In adults, it consists primarily of fat.
massage therapist      An individual who is trained to use pressure, kneading, and stroking to promote muscle and full-body relaxation.
mastoid process      A large bump on each temporal bone just behind each ear. It resembles a nipple, hence the name mastoid.
Material Safety Data Sheet      A form that is required for all hazardous chemicals or other substances used in the laboratory and that contains information about the product’s name, ingredients, chemical characteristics, physical and health hazards, guidelines for safe handling, and procedures to be followed in the event of exposure.
matrix      The basic format of an appointment book, established by blocking off times on the schedule during which the doctor is able to see patients. The material between the cells of connective tissue.
matter      Anything that takes up space and has weight. Liquids, solids, and gases are matter.
maturation phase      The third phase of wound healing, in which scar tissue forms.
maxillae      A bone that forms the upper portion of the jaw.
Mayo stand      A movable stainless steel instrument tray on a stand.
medial      A directional term that describes areas closer to the midline of the body.
Medicaid      A federally funded health cost assistance program for low-income, blind, and disabled patients; families receiving aid to dependent children; foster children; and children with birth defects.
medical asepsis      Measures taken to reduce the number of microorganisms, such as hand washing and wearing examination gloves that do not necessarily eliminate microorganisms; also called clean technique.
medical practice act      A law that defines the exact duties that physicians and other healthcare personnel may perform.

Medicare      A national health insurance program for Americans aged 65 and older.
Medicare+ Choice Plan      Medicare benefit in which beneficiaries can choose to enroll in one of three major types of plans instead of the Original Medicare Plan.
Medigap      Private insurance that Medicare recipients can purchase to reduce the gap in coverage—the amount they would have to pay from their own pockets after receiving Medicare benefits.
medullary cavity      The canal that runs through the center of the diaphysis.
megakaryocytes      Cells within red blood marrow that give rise to platelets.
meiosis      A type of cell division in which each new cell contains only one member of each chromosome pair.
melanin      A pigment that is deposited throughout the layers of the epidermis.
melanocyte      A cell type within the epidermis that makes the pigment melanin.
melatonin      A hormone that helps to regulate circadian rhythms.
membrane potential      The potential inside a cell relative to the fluid outside the cell.
meninges      Membranes that protect the brain and spinal cord.
meningitis      An inflammation of the meninges.
meniscus      The curve in the air-to-liquid surface of a liquid specimen in a container.
menopause      The termination of the menstrual cycle due to the normal aging of the ovaries.
menses      The clinical term for menstrual flow.
menstral cycle      The female reproductive cycle. It consists of regular changes in the uterine lining that lead to monthly bleeding.
mensuration      The process of measuring.
mesoderm      The primary germ layer that gives rise to connective tissue and some epithelial tissue.
metabolism      The overall chemical functioning of the body, including all body processes that build small molecules into large ones (anabolism) and break down large molecules into small ones (catabolism).
metacarpals      The bones that form the palms of the hand.
metastasis      The transfer of abnormal cells to body sites far removed from the original tumor.
metatarsals      The bones that form the front of the foot.
microbiology      The study of microorganisms.
(See page(s) 46) 
microfiche      in rectangular sheets.
microfilm      A roll of film stored on a reel and imprinted with information on a reduced scale to minimize storage space requirements.
microorganism      A simple form of life, commonly made up of a single cell and so small that it can be seen only with a microscope.
micropipette      A small pipette that holds a small, precise volume of fluid; used to collect capillary blood.
microvilli      Structures found in the lining of the small intestine. They greatly increase the surface area of the small intestine so it can absorb many nutrients.
micturition      The  process of urination.
midsagittal      Anatomical term that refers to the plane that runs lengthwise down the midline of the body, dividing it into equal left and right halves.
minerals      Natural, inorganic substances the body needs to help build and maintain body tissues and carry on life functions.
minutes      A report of what happened and what was discussed and decided at a meeting.
mirroring      Restating in your own words what a person is saying.
misdemeanor      A less serious crime such as theft under a certain dollar amount or disturbing the peace. A misdemeanor is punishable by fines or imprisonment.
mitosis      A type of cell division that produces ordinary body, or somatic, cells; each new cell receives a complete set of paired chromosomes.
mitral valve      See bicuspid valve.
mobility aids      Devices that improve one’s ability to move from one place to another; also called mobility assistive devices.
modeling      The process of teaching the patient a new skill by having the patient observe and imitate it.
modem      A device used to transfer information from one computer to another through telephone lines.
modified-block letter style      A letter format similar to full-block style, except that the dateline, complimentary closing, signature block, and notations are aligned and begin at the center of the page or slightly to the right of center.
modified-wave schedule      A scheduling system similar to the wave system, with patients arriving at planned intervals during the hour, allowing time to catch up before the next hour begins.
modifier      One or more two-digit codes assigned to the five digit main code to show that some special circumstance applied to the service or procedure that the physician performed.
molars      Back teeth that are flat and are designed to grind food.
mold      Fungi that grow into large, fuzzy, multicelled organisms that produce spores.

molecule      The smallest unit into which an element can be divided and still retain its properties; it is formed when atoms bond together.
money order      A certificate of guaranteed payment, which may be purchased from a bank, a post office, or some convenience stores.
monocytes      A large white blood cell with an oval or horseshoe-shaped nucleus that defends the body by phagocytosis; develops into a macrophage when it moves from blood into other tissues.
monosaccharide      A type of carbohydrate that is a simple sugar.
mons pubis      A fatty area that overlies the public bone.
moral values      Values or types of behavior that serve as a basis for ethical conduct and are formed through the influence of the family, culture, or society.
mordant      A substance, such as iodine, that can intensify or deepen the response a specimen has to a stain.
morphology      The study of the shape or form of objects.
morula      A zygote that has undergone cleavage and results in a ball of cells.
motherboard      The main circuit board of a computer that controls the other components in the system.
motor      Efferent neurons that carry information from the central nervous system to the effectors.
mucocutaneous exposure      Exposure to a pathogen through mucous membranes.
mucosa      The innermost  layer of the wall of the alimentary canal.
mucous cells      Cells that are found in the salivary glands and the lining of the stomach and that secrete mucous.
MUGA scan      A radiologic procedure that evaluates the condition of the heart’s myocardium; it involves injection of radioisotopes that concentrate in the myocardium, followed by the use of a gamma camera to measure ventricular contractions to evaluate the patient’s heart wall.
multimedia      More than one medium, such as in graphics, sound, and text used to convey information.
multitasking      Running two or more computer software programs simultaneously.
multi-unit smooth muscle      A type of smooth muscle that is found in the iris of the eye and in the walls of blood vessels.
murmur      An abnormal heart sound heard when the ventricles contract and blood leaks back into the atria.
muscle tissue      A tissue type that is specialized to shorten and elongate.
muscle fatigue      A condition caused by a buildup of lactic acid.
muscle fiber      Muscle cells that are called fibers because of their long lengths.
muscular dystrophy      A group of inherited disorders characterized by a loss of muscle tissue and by muscle weakness.
mutation      An error that sometimes occurs when DNA is duplicated. When it occurs, it is passed to descendent cells and may or may not affect them in harmful Aways.
myasthenia gravis      An autoimmune disorder that is characterized by muscle weakness.
myelin      A fatty substance that insulates the axon and allows it to send nerve impulses quickly.
myelography      An x-ray visualization of the spinal cord after the injection of a radioactive contrast medium or air into the spinal subarachnoid space (between the second and innermost of three membranes that cover the spinal cord). This test can reveal tumors, cysts, spinal stenosis, or herniated disks.
myocardial infarction      A heart attack that occurs when the blood flow to the heart is reduced as a result of blockage in the coronary arteries or their branches.
myocardium      The middle and thickest layer of the heart. It is made primarily of cardiac muscle.
myofibrils      Long structures that fill the sarcoplasm of a muscle fiber.
myoglobin      A pigment contained in muscle cells that stores extra oxygen.
myoglobinuria      The presence of myoglobin in the urine; can be caused by injured or damaged muscle tissue.
myometrium      The middle, thick muscular layer of the uterus.
myopia      A condition that occurs when light entering the eye is focused in front of the retina; commonly called nearsightedness.

myxedema      A severe type of hypothyroidism that is most common in women over the age of 50.
nail bed      The layer beneath each nail.
narcotic      A popular term for an opioid and term of choice in government agencies; see opioid.
nasal      Relating to the nose. The nasal bones fuse to form the bridge of the nose.
nasal conchae      Structures that extend from the lateral walls of the nasal cavity.
nasal mucosa      The lining of the nose.
nasal septum      A structure that divides the nasal cavity into a left and right portion.
nasolacrimal duct      A structure located on the medial aspect of each eyeball. These ducts drain tears into the nose.
nasopharynx      The portion of the pharynx behind the nasal cavity.

natural killer      Non-B and non-T lymphocytes. NK cells kill cancer cellsand virus-infected cells without previous exposure to the antigen.
needle biopsy      A procedure in which a needle and syringe are used to aspirate (withdraw by suction) fluid or tissue cells.
negligence      A medical professional’s failure to perform an essential action or performance of an improper action that directly results in the harm of a patient.
negotiable      Legally transferable from one person to another.
neonatal period      The first four weeks of the postnatal period of an offspring.
neonate      An infant during the first four weeks of life.
nephrologist      A specialist who studies, diagnoses, and manages diseases of the kidney.
nephrons      Microscopic structures in the kidneys that filter blood and form urine.
nerve fiber      A structure that extends from the cell body. It consists of two types: axons and dendrites.
nerve impulse      Electrochemical messages transmitted from neurons to other neurons and effectors.
nervous tissue      A tissue type located in the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves.
net earnings      Take-home pay, calculated by subtracting total deductions from grossearnings.

network      A system that links several computers together.
networking      Making contacts with relatives, friends, and acquaintances that may have information about how to find a job in your field.
neuralgia      A medical condition characterized by severe pain along the distribution of a nerve.
neuroglial cell      Non-neuronal type of nervous tissue that is smaller and more abundant than neurons. Neuroglial cells support neurons.
neurologist      A specialist who diagnoses and treats disorders and diseases of the nervous system, including the brain, spinal cord, and nerves.
neuron      A nerve cell; it carries nerve impulses between the brain or spinal cord and other parts of the body.
neurotransmitter      A chemical within the vesicles of the synaptic knob that is released into the postsynaptic structures when a nerve impulse reaches the synaptic knob.
neutrophil      A type of granular leukocyte that aids in phagocytosis by attacking bacterial invaders; also responsible for the release of pyrogens.
new patient      Patient that, for CPT reporting purposes, has not received professional services from the physician within the past three years.
nocturia      Excessive nighttime urination.
noncompliant      The term used to describe a patient who does not follow the medical advice given.
noninvasive      Referring to procedures that do not require inserting devices, breaking the skin, or monitoring to the degree needed with invasive procedures.
nonsteroidal hormone      A type of hormone made of amino acids and proteins.
norepinephrine      A neurotransmitter released by sympathetic neurons onto organs and glands for fight-or-flight (stressful) situations.
normal flora      Beneficial bacteria found in the body that create a barrier against pathogens by producing substances that may harm invaders and using up the resources pathogens need to live.
no-show      A patient who does not call to cancel and does not come to an appointment.
nosocomial infection      An infection contracted in a hospital.
Notice of Privacy Practices      A document that informs patients of their rights as outlined under HIPAA.
nuclear medicine      The use of radionuclides, or radioisotopes(radioactive elements or their compounds), to evaluate the bone,brain, lungs, kidneys, liver, pancreas,thyroid, and spleen; also known as radionuclide imaging.
nucleases      Pancreatic enzymes that digest nucleic acids.
nucleus      The control center of a cell; contains the chromosomes that direct cellularprocesses.
numeric filing system      A filing system that organizes files by numbers instead of names. Each patient is assigned a number in the order in which she joins the practice.
O and P specimen      An ova and parasites specimen, or a stool sample, that is examined for the presence of certain forms of protozoans or parasites, including their eggs (ova).
objective      Pertaining to data that is readily apparent and measurable, such as vital signs, test results, or physical examination findings.
objectives      The set of magnifying lenses contained in the nosepiece of a compound microscope.
occipital      Relating to the back of the head. The occipital bone forms the back of the skull.
occult blood      Blood contained in some other substance, not visible to the naked eye.
ocular      An eyepiece of a microscope.
oil-immersion objective      A microscope objective that is designed to be lowered into a drop of immersion oil placed directly above the prepared specimen under examination, eliminating the air space between the microscope slide and the objective and producing a much sharper, brighter image.
ointment      A form of topical drug; also known as a salve.
Older Americans Act of 1965      A U.S. law that guarantees certain benefits to elderly citizens, including health care, retirement income, and protection against abuse.
olfactory      Relating to the sense of smell.
oliguria      Insufficient production (or volume) of urine.
oncologist      A specialist who identifies tumors and treats patients who have cancer.
onychectomy      The removal of a fingernail or toenail.
oocyte      The immature egg.
oogenesis      The process of egg cell formation.
open-book account      An account that is open to charges made occasionally as needed.
open hours scheduling      A system of scheduling in which patients arrive at the doctor’s office at their convenience and are seen on a first-come, firstserved basis.
open posture      A position that conveys a feeling of receptiveness and friendliness; facing another person with arms comfortably at the sides or in the lap.
ophthalmologist      A medical doctor who is an eye specialist.
ophthalmoscope      A hand-held instrument with a light; used to view inner eye structures.
opioid      A natural or synthetic drug that produces opium-like effects.
optic chiasm      A structure located at the base of the brain where parts of the optic nerves cross. It carries visual information to the brain.
optical microscope      A microscope that uses light, concentrated through a condenser and focused through the object being examined, to project an image.
opportunistic infection      Infection by microorganisms that can cause disease only when a host’s resistance is low.
optometrist      A trained and licensed vision specialist who is not a physician.
orbicularis oculi      The muscle in the eyelid responsible for blinking.
orbit      The eye socket, which forms a protective shell around the eye.
organ      Structure formed by the organization of two or more different tissue types that carries out specific functions. 
organelle      A structure within a cell that performs a specific function.
organic      Pertaining to matter that contains carbon and hydrogen.
organism      A whole living being that is formed from organ systems.
organ system      A system that consists of organs that join together to carry out vital functions.
origin      An attachment site of a skeletal muscle that does not move when a muscle contracts.
Original Medicare Plan      The Medicare feefor- service plan that allows the beneficiary to choose any licensed physician certified by Medicare.
oropharynx      The portion of the pharynx behind the oral cavity.
orthopedist      A specialist who diagnoses and treats diseases and disorders of the muscles and bones.
OSHA      A set of regulations designed to save lives, prevent injuries,and protect the health of workers in the United States.
osmosis      The diffusion of water across a semipermeable membrane such as a cell membrane.
ossification      The process of bone growth.
osteoblast      Boneforming cells that turn membrane into bone. They use excess blood calcium to build new bone.
osteoclast      Bonedissolving cells. When bone is dissolved, calcium is released into the bloodstream.
osteocyte      A cell of osseous tissue; also called a bone cell.
osteon      Elongated cylinders that run up and down the long axis of bone.
osteopathic manipulative medicine      A system of handson techniques that help relieve pain, restore motion, support the body’s natural functions, and influence the body’s structure. Osteopathic physicians study OMM in addition to medical courses.
osteoporosis      An endocrine and metabolic disorder of the musculoskeletal system, more common in women than in men, characterized by hunched-over posture.
osteosarcoma      A type of bone cancer that originates from osteoblasts, the cells that make bony tissue.
otologist      A medical doctor who specializes in the health of the ear.
otorhinolaryngologist      A specialist who diagnoses and treats diseases of the ear, nose, and throat.

out guide      A marker made of stiff material and used as a placeholder when a file is taken out of a filing system.
oval window      The beginning of the inner ear.

overbooking      Scheduling appointments for more patients than can reasonably be seen in the time allowed.
ovulation      The process by which the ovaries release one ovum (egg) approximately every 28 days.
oxygen debt      A condition that develops when skeletal muscles are used strenuously for a minute or two.
oxyhemoglobin      Hemoglobin that is bound to oxygen. It is bright red in color.
oxytocin OT      A hormone that causes contraction of the uterus during childbirth and the ejection of milk from mammary glands during breast-feeding.
packed red blood cells      Red blood cells that collect at the bottom of a centrifuged blood sample.
palate      The roof of the mouth.
palatine      Bones that form the anterior potion of the roof of the mouth and the palate.
palatine tonsils      Two masses of lymphatic tissue located at the back of the throat.
palpation      A type of touch used by health-care providers to determine characteristics such as texture, temperature, shape, and the presence of movement.
palpatory method      Systolic blood pressure measured by using the sense of touch. This measurement provides a necessary preliminary approximation of the systolic blood pressure to ensure an adequate level of inflation when the actual auscultatory measurement is made.
palpitations      Unusually rapid, strong, or irregular pulsations of the heart.
pancreatic amylase      An enzyme that digests carbohydrates.
pancreatic lipase      An enzyme that digests lipids.
panel      Tests frequently ordered together that are organ or disease oriented.
papillae      The “bumps” of the tongue in which the taste buds are found.
paranasal sinuses      Air-filled spaces within skull bones that open into the nasal cavity.
parasite      An organism that lives on or in another organism and relies on it for nourishment or some other advantage to the detriment of the host organism.
parasympathetic      A division of the autonomic nervous system that prepares the body for rest and digestion.
parathyroid hormone      A hormone that helps regulate calcium levels in the bloodstream.
parenteral nutrition      Nutrition obtained when specially prepared nutrients are injected directly into patients’ veins rather than taken by mouth.
paresthesias      Abnormal sensations ranging from burning to tingling.
parietal      Bones that form most of the top and sides of the skull.
parietal cells      Stomach cells that secrete hydrochloric acid, which is necessary to convert pepsinogen to pepsin Parietal cells also secrete intrinsic factor, which is necessary for vitamin B12 absorption.
parietal pericardium      The layer on top of the visceral pericardium.
parotid glands      The largest of the salivary glands. The parotid glands are located beneath the skin just in front of the ears.
participating physicians      Physicians who enroll in managed care plans. They have contracts with MCOs that stipulate their fees.
passive listening      Hearing what a person has to say without responding in any way; contrast with active listening.
patch test      An allergy test in which a gauze patch soaked with a suspected allergen is taped onto the skin with nonallergenic tape; used to discover the cause of contact dermatitis.
patella      The bone commonly referred to as the kneecap.
pathogen      A microorganism capable of causing disease.
pathologist      A medical doctor who studies the changes a disease produces in the cells, fluids, and processes of the entire body.
patient compliance      Obedience in terms of following a physician’s orders.
patient ledger card      A card containing information needed for insurance purposes, including the patient’s name, address, telephone number, Social Security number, insurance information, employer’s name, and any special billing instructions. It also includes the name of the person who is responsible for charges if this is anyone other than the patient.

patient record/chart      A compilation of important information about a patient’s medical history and present condition.
payee      A person who receives a payment.
payer      A person who pays a bill or writes a check.
pay schedule      A list showing how often an employee is paid,such as weekly, biweekly, or monthly.
pectoral girdle      The structure that attaches the arms to the axial skeleton.
pediatrician      A specialist who diagnoses and treats childhood diseases and teaches parents skills for keeping their children healthy.
pegboard system      A bookkeeping system that uses a lightweight board with pegs on which forms can be stacked, allowing each transaction to be entered and recorded on four different bookkeeping forms at once; also called the onewrite system.
pelvic girdle      The structure that attaches the legs to the axial skeleton.
pepsin      An enzyme that allows the body to digest proteins.
pepsinogen      Substance that is secreted by the chief cells in the lining of the stomach and becomes pepsin in the presence of acid.
peptidases      Enzymes that digest proteins.
percussion      Tapping or striking the body to hear sounds or feel vibration.
percutaneous exposure      Exposure to a pathogen through a puncture wound or needlestick.
pericardium      A membrane that covers the heart and large blood vessels attached to it.
perilymph      A fluid in the inner ear. When this fluid moves, it activates hearing and equilibrium receptors.
perimetrium      The thin layer that covers the myometrium of the uterus.
perimysium      The connective tissue that divides a muscle into sections called fascicles.
periosteumThe membrane that surrounds the diaphysis of a bone.      The membrane that surrounds the diaphysis of a bone.
peripheral nervous system      A system that consists of nerves that branch off the central nervous system.
peristalsis      The rhythmic muscular contractions that move food through the digestive tract.
personal space      A certain area that surrounds an individual and within which another person’s physical presence is felt as an intrusion.
petty cash fund      Cash kept on hand in the office for small purchases.
phagocyte      A specialized white blood cell that engulfs and digests pathogens.
phagocytosis      The process by which white blood cells defend the body against infection by engulfing invading pathogens.
phalanges      The bones of the fingers.
pharmaceutical      Pertaining to medicinal drugs.
pharmacodynamics      The study of what drugs do to the body: the mechanism of action, or how they work to produce a therapeutic effect.
pharmacognosy      The study of characteristics of natural drugs and their sources. 
pharmacokinetics      The study of what the body does to drugs: how the body absorbs, metabolizes,distributes, and excretes the drugs.
pharmacology      The study of drugs.
pharmacotherapeutics      The study of how drugs are used to treat disease; also called clinical pharmacology.
pharyngeal tonsils      Two masses of lymphatic tissue located above the palatine tonsils; also called adenoids.
pharynx      Structure below the mouth and nasal cavities that is an organ of the respiratory system as well as the digestive system.
phenylketonuria      A genetically inherited disorder in which the body cannot properly metabolize the nutrient phenylalanine, resulting in the buildup of phenylketones in the blood and their presence in the urine. The accumulation of phenylketones results in mental retardation.
philosophy      The system of values and principles an office has adopted in its everyday practice.
phlebotomy      The insertion of a needle or cannula (smalltube) into a vein for the purpose of withdrawing blood.
photometer      An instrument that measures light intensity.
physiatrist      A physical medicine specialist, who diagnoses and treats diseases and disorders with physical therapy.
physical therapy      A medical specialty that uses cold, heat, water, exercise, massage, traction, and other physical means to treat musculoskeletal, nervous, and cardiopulmonary disorders.
physician assistant      A health-care provider who practices medicine under the supervision of a physician.

physician’s office laboratory      A laboratory contained in a physician’s office; processing tests in the POL produces quick turnaround and eliminates the need for patients to travel to other test locations.
physiology      The science of the study of the body’s functions.
pineal body      A small gland located between the cerebral hemispheres that secretes melatonin.
pitch      The high or low quality in the sound of a person’s speaking voice.
placenta      An organ located between the mother and the fetus. It permits the absorption of nutrients and oxygen. In some cases, harmful substances such as viruses are absorbed through the placenta.

plantar flexion      Pointing the toes downward.
plasma      The fluid component of blood, in which formed elements are suspended; makes up 55% of blood volume.
plastic surgeon      A specialist who reconstructs, corrects, or improves body structures.
platelets      Fragments of cytoplasm in the blood that are crucial to clot formation; also called thrombocytes.
pleura      The membranes that surround the lungs.
pleuritis      A condition in which the pleura become inflamed, which causes them to stick together. It can also cause an excess amount of fluid to form between the membranes.
plexus      A structure that is formed when spinal nerves fuse together. It includes the cervical, brachial, and lumbosacral nerves.

pneumothorax      The presence of air or gas in the pleural cavity. The lung typically collapses with pneumothorax.

polar body      A nonfunctional cell that is one of two small cells formed during the division of an oocyte.
polarity      The condition of having two separate poles, one of which is positive and the other, negative.
polarized      The state in which the outside of a cell membrane is positively charged and the inside is negatively charged. Polarization occurs when a neuron is at rest.
polysaccharide      A type of carbohydrate that is a starch.
POMR      The problemoriented medical record system for keeping patients’ charts. Information in a POMR includes the database of information about the patient and the patient’s condition, the problem list, the diagnostic and treatment plan,and progress notes.
portfolio      A collection of an applicant’s résumé, reference letters, and other documents of interest to a potential employer.
positron emission tomography      A radiologic procedure that entails injecting isotopes combined with other substances involved in metabolic activity, such as glucose. These special isotopes emit positrons, which a computer processes and displays on a screen.
posterior      Anatomical term meaning toward the back of the body. Also called dorsal.

postnatal period      The period following childbirth.
postoperative      Taking place after a surgical procedure.
posture      Body position and alignment.
power of attorney      The legal right to act as the attorney or agent of another person, including handling that person’s financial matters.
practitioner      One who practices a profession.

preferred provider organization      A managed care plan that establishes a network of providers to perform services for plan members.
premenstrual syndrome      A syndrome that is a collection of symptoms that occur just before the menstrual period.
premium      The basic annual cost of health-care insurance.
prenatal period      The period that includes the embryonic and fetal periods until the delivery of the offspring.
preoperative      Taking place prior to surgery.
prepuce      A piece of skin in the uncircumcized male that covers the glans penis.
presbyopia      A common eye disorder that results in the loss of lens elasticity. Presbyopia develops with age and causes a person to have difficulty seeing objects close up.
prescribe      To give a patient a prescription to be filled by a pharmacy.
prescription      A physician’s written order for medication.

prescription drug      A drug that can be legally used only by order of a physician and must be administered or dispensed by a licensed health-care professional.
primary care physician      A physician who provides routine medical care and referrals to specialists.

primary germ layer      An inner cell mass that organizes into layers: the ectoderm, mesoderm,and endoderm.
prime mover      The muscle responsible for most of the movement when a body movement is produced by a group of muscles.
primordial follicle      A structure that develops in the ovarian cortex of a female infant before she is born. 
Privacy Rule      Common name for the HIPAA Standard for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information, which provides the first comprehensive federal protection for the privacy of health information. The Privacy Rule creates national standards to protect individuals’ medical records and other personal health information.
procedure code      Codes that represent medical procedures, such as surgery and diagnostic tests, and medical services, such as an examination to evaluate a patient’s condition.
proctoscopy      An examination of the lower rectum and anal canal with a 3-inch instrument called a proctoscope to detect hemorrhoids, polyps, fissures, fistulas, and abscesses.
proficiency testing program      A required set of tests for clinical laboratories; the tests measure the accuracy of the laboratory’s test results and adherence to standard operating procedures.
progesterone      A female steroid hormone primarily produced by the ovary.
prognosis      A prediction of the probable course of a disease in an individual and the chances of recovery.
prolactin      A hormone that stimulates milk production in the mammary glands.
proliferation phase      The second phase of wound healing, in which new tissue forms,closing off the wound.
pronation      Turning the palms of the hand downward.
pronunciation      The sounding out of words.
proofreading      Checking a document for formatting, data, and mechanical errors.
prostaglandin      A local hormone derived from lipid molecules. Prostaglandins typically do not travel in the bloodstream to find their target cells because their targets are close by. This hormone  has numerous effects, including uterine stimulation during childbirth.
prostate gland      A chestnut-shaped gland that surrounds the beginning of the urethra in the male.
prostatitis      Inflammation of the prostate gland, which can be acute or chronic.

protected health information      Individually identifiable health information that is transmitted or maintained by electronic or other media, such as computer storage devices. The core of the HIPAA Privacy Rules the protection, use, and disclosure of protected health information.
proteinuria      An excess of protein in the urine.
protozoan      A single celled eukaryotic organism much larger than a bacterium; some protozoans can cause disease in humans.
protraction      Moving a body part anteriorly.

proximal      Anatomical term meaning closer to a point of attachment or closer to the trunk of the body.
proximal convoluted tubule      The portion of the renal tubule that is directly attached to the glomerular capsule and becomes the loop of Henle.
psoriasis      A common skin condition characterized by reddishsilver scaly lesions most often found on the elbows, knees, scalp, and trunk.
puberty      The period of adolescence when a person begins to develop secondary sexual traits and reproductive functions.
pulmonary circuit      The route that blood takes from the heart to the lungs and back to the heart again.
pulmonary trunk      A large artery that branches into the pulmonary arteries and carries blood to the lungs.
pulmonary valve      A heart valve that is a semilunar valve. It is situated between the right ventricle and the pulmonary trunk.
pubis      The area that forms the front of a hip bone.
pulmonary function test      A test that evaluates a patient’s lung volume and capacity; used to detect and diagnose pulmonary problems or to monitor certain respiratory disorders and evaluate the effectiveness of treatment.
puncture wound      A deep wound caused by a sharp, pointed object.
punitive damages      Money paid as punishment for intentionally breaking the law.
pupil      The opening at the center of the iris, which grows smaller or larger as the iris contracts or relaxes, respectively; it regulates the amount of light that enters the eye.
purchase order      A form that authorizes a purchase for the practice.
purchasing groups      Groups of medical offices associated with a nearby hospital that order supplies through the hospital to obtain a quantity discount.
Purkinje Fibers      Fibers that are located in the lateral walls of the ventricles.
pyelonephritis      A urinary tract infection that involves one or both of the kidneys.
pyrogens      Fever producing substances released by neutrophils.
quadrants      Four equal sections, such as those into which the abdomen is figuratively divided during an examination.
qualitative analysis      In microbiology, identification of bacteria present in a specimen by the appearance of colonies grown on a culture plate.
qualitative test response      A test result that indicates the substance tested for is either present or absent.

quality assurance program      A required program for clinical laboratories designed to monitor the quality of patient care, including quality control, instrument and equipment maintenance, proficiency testing, training and continuing education, and standard operating procedures documentation.
quality control      An ongoing system, required in every physican’s office, to evaluate the quality of medical care provided.
quality control program      A component of a quality assurance program that focuses on ensuring accuracy in laboratory test results through careful monitoring of test procedures.
quantitative analysis      In microbiology, a determination of the number of bacteria present in a specimen by direct count of colonies grown on a culture plate.
quantitative test results      The concentration of a test substance in a specimen.
quarterly return      The Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return, a form submitted to the IRS every 3 months that summarizes the federal income and employment taxes withheld from employees’ paychecks. 
radial artery      An artery located in the groove on the thumb side of the inner wrist, where the pulse is taken on adults.
radiation therapy      The use of x-rays and radioactive substances to treat cancer.
radiologist      A physician who specializes in taking and reading x-rays.
radius      The lateral bone of the forearm.
random access memory      The temporary, or programmable, memory in a computer.
random urine specimen      A single urine specimen taken at any time of the day; the most common type of sample collected.
range of motion      The degree to which a joint is able to move.
rapport      A harmonious, positive relationship.
read only memory      A computer’s permanent memory, which can be read by the computer but not changed. It provides the computer with the basic operating instructions it needs to function.
reagent      A chemical or chemically treated substance used in test procedures and formulated to react in specific ways when exposed under specific conditions.
reconciliation      A comparison of the office’s financial records with bank records to ensure that they are consistent and accurate; usually done when the monthly checking account statement is received from the bank.
records management system      How patient records are created, filed, and maintained.
recovery position      The position a person is placed in after receiving first aid for choking or cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
rectum      The last section of the sigmoid colon that straightens out and becomes the anal canal.
reference      A recommendation for employment from a facility or a preceptor.
reference laboratory      A laboratory owned and operated by an organization outside the physician’s practice.
referral      An authorization from a medical practice for a patient to have specialized services performed by another practice;often required for insurance purposes.
reflex      A predictable automatic response to stimuli.
refraction examination      An eye examination in which the patient looks through a succession of different lenses to find out which ones create the clearest image.
refractometer      An optical instrument that measures the refraction, or bending, of light as it passes through a liquid.
Registered Medical Assistant      A medical assistant who has met the educational requirements and taken and passed the certification examination for medical assisting given by the American Medical Technologists (AMT).
relaxin      A hormone that comes from the corpus luteum. It inhibits uterine contractions and relaxes the ligaments of the pelvis in preparation for childbirth.
remittance advice      A form that the patient and the practice receive for each encounter that outlines the amount billed by the practice, the amount allowed, the amount of subscriber liability, the amount paid, and notations of any service not covered, including an explanation of why that service is not covered; also called an explanation of benefits.
renal calculi      Kidney stones.
renal column      The portion of the renal cortex between the renal pyramids.
renal corpuscle      Corpuscle that is composed of the glomerulus and the glomerular capsule. The filtration of blood occurs here.
renal cortex      The outermost layer of the kidney.
renal medulla      The middle portion of the kidney.
renal pelvis      The internal structure of the kidney. Urine flows from the renal pelvis down the ureter.
renal pyramids      Triangular-shaped areas in the medulla of the kidney.
renal sinus      The medial depression of a kidney.

renal tubule      Structure that extends from the glomerular capsule of a nephron and is comprised of the proximal convoluted tubule, the loop of Henle, and the distal convoluted tubule.

renin      A hormone secreted by the kidney that helps to regulate blood pressure.

repolarization      The process of returning to the original polar (resting) state.

reputable      Having a good reputation.

requisition      A formal request from a staff member or doctor for the purchase of equipment or supplies.

reservoir host      An animal, insect, or human whose body is susceptible to growth of a pathogen.

respiratory volume      The different volumes of air that move in and out of the lungs during different intensities of breathing.  These volumes can be measured to assess the healthiness of the respiratory system.
resource-based relative value scale      The payment system used by Medicare. It establishes the relative value units for services, replacing the providers’ consensus on usual fees.
résumé      A typewritten document summarizing one’s employment and educational history.
retention schedule      A schedule that details how long to keep different types of patient records in the office after they have become inactive or closed and how long the records should be stored.
retina      The inner layer of the eye; contains light-sensing nerve cells.
retraction      Moving a body part posteriorly.
retrograde pyelography      A radiologic procedure in which the doctor injects a contrast medium through a urethral catheter and takes a series of x-rays to evaluate function of the ureters, bladder, and urethra.

retroperitoneal      An anatomical term that means behind the peritoneal cavity. It is where the kidneys lie.
return demonstation      Participatory teaching method in which the technique is first described to the patient and then demonstrated to the patient; the patient is then asked to repeat the demonstration.
rhabdomyolysis      A condition in which the kidneys have been damaged due to toxins released from muscle cells.

Rh antigen      A protein first discovered on the red blood cells of rhesus monkeys, hence the name Rh.

RhoGAM      A medication that prevents an Rh-negative mother from making antibodies against the Rh antigen.

RNA      A nucleic acid used to make protein.

rods      Light-sensing nerve cells in the eye, at the posterior of the retina, that function in dim light but do not provide sharp images or detect color.

rosacea      A condition characterized by chronic redness and acne over the nose and cheeks.
rotation      Twisting a body part.

route      The way a drug is introduced into the body.

sacrum      A triangular-shaped bone that consists of five fused vertebra.

sagittal      An anatomical term that refers to the plane that divides the body into left and right portions.

salutation      A written greeting, such as “Dear,” used at the beginning of a letter.

sanitization      A reduction of the number of microorganisms on an object or a surface to a fairly safe level.

sarcolemma      The cell membrane of a muscle fiber.

sarcoplasm      The cytoplasm of a muscle fiber.

sarcoplasmic reticulum      The endoplasmic reticulum of a muscle fiber.

SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome)      A severe and acute respiratory illness characterized by fever and a nonproductive cough that progresses to the point at which insufficient oxygen is present in the blood.

saturated fat      Fats, derived primarily from animal sources, that are usually solid at room temperature and that tend to raise blood cholesterol levels.

scabies      Skin lesions that are very itchy and caused by a burrowing mite. Scabies is most commonly found between the fingers and on the genitalia.
scanner      An optical device that converts printed matter into a format that can be read by the computer and inputs the converted information.
scapula      Thin, triangularshaped, flat bones located on the dorsal surface of the rib cage; also called shoulder blades.
Schwann cell      A neuroglial cell whose cell membrane coats the axons.
sciatica      Pain in the low back and hip radiating down the back of the leg along the sciatic nerve.

sclera      The tough, outermost layer, or “white,” of the eye, through which light cannot pass; covers all except the front of the eye.
scoliosis      A lateral curvature of the spine, which is normally straight when viewed from behind.
scratch test      An allergy test in which extracts of suspected allergens are applied to the patient's skin and the skin is then scratched to allow the extracts to penetrate.
screening      Performing a diagnostic test on a person who is typically free of symptoms.
screen saver      A program that automatically changes the monitor display at short intervals or constantly shows moving images to prevent burn-in of images on the computer screen.
scrotum      In a male, the sac of skin below the pelvic cavity that contains the testes.
sebaceous      A type of oil gland found in the dermis.
sebum      An oily substance produced by sebaceous glands.
Security Rule      The technical safeguards that protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of health information covered by HIPAA. The Security Rule specifies how patient information is protected on computer networks, the Internet, disks, and other storage media.
seizure      A series of violent and involuntary contractions of the muscles; also called a convulsion.
sella turcica      A deep depression in the sphenoid bone where the pituitary gland sits.
semen      Sperm and the various substances that nourish and transport them.
semicircular canals      Structures in the inner ear that help a person maintain balance; each of the three canals is positioned at right angles to the other two.
seminal vesicles      A pair of convoluted tubes that lie behind the bladder. These tubes secrete a fluid that provides nutrition for the sperm.
seminiferous tubules      These tubes contain spermatogenic cells and are located in the lobules of the testes.
sensorineural hearing loss      This type of hearing loss occurs when neural structures associated with the ear are damaged. Neural structures include hearing receptors and the auditory nerve.
sensory      Afferent neurons that carry sensory information from the periphery to the central nervous system.
sensory adaptation      A process in which the same chemical can stimulate receptors only for a limited amount of time until the receptors eventually no longer respond to the chemical.
septic shock      A state of shock resulting from massive, widespread infection that affects the blood vessels' ability to circulate blood.

sequential order      One after another in a predictable pattern or sequence.
serosa      The outermost layer of the alimentary canal; also known as the visceral peritoneum.
serous cells      One of two types of cells that make up the salivary glands. These cells secrete a watery fluid that contains amylase.
serum      The clear, yellow liquid that remains after a blood clot forms; it is separated from the clotted elements by centrifugation.
service contract      A contract that covers services for equipment that are not included in a standard maintenance contract.
sex chromosome      Chromosome of the 23rd pair.

sex-linked trait      Traits that are carried on the sex chromosomes, or X and Y chromosomes.
sigmoid colon      An S-shaped tube that lies between the descending colon and the rectum.
sigmoidoscopy      A procedure in which the interior of the sigmoid area of the large intestine, between the descending colon and the rectum, is examined with a sigmoidoscope, a lighted instrument with a magnifying lens.
sign      An objective or external factor, such as blood pressure, rash, or swelling, which can be seen or felt by the physician or measured by an instrument.
simplified letter style      A modification of the full-block style in which the salutation and complimentary closing are omitted and a subject line typed in all capital letters is placed between the address and the body of the letter.
single-entry account      An account that has only one charge, usually for a small amount, for a patient who does not come in regularly.
sinoatrial node      A small bundle of heart muscle tissue in the superior wall of the right atrium that sets the rhythm (or pattern) of the heart's contractions; also called sinus node or pacemaker.
sinusitis      Inflammation of the lining of a sinus.
skinfold test      A method of measuring fat as a percentage of body weight by measuring the thickness of a fold of skin with a caliper.
slit lamp      An instrument composed of a magnifying lens combined with a light source; used to provide a minute examination of the eye's anatomy.
smear      A specimen spread thinly and unevenly across a slide.
SOAP      An approach to medical records documentation that documents information in the following order:S (subjective data), O (objective data), A (assessment), P (plan of action).
software      A program, or set of instructions, that tells a computer what to do.
solution      A homogeneous mixture of a solid, liquid, or gaseous substance in a liquid, such as a dissolved drug in liquid form.
somatic      A division of the peripheral nervous system that connects the central nervous system to skin and skeletal muscle.
SPECT      Single photon emission computed tomography; a radiologic procedure in which a gamma camera detects signals induced by gamma radiation and a computer converts these signals into two- or threedimensional images that are displayed on a screen.
speculum      An instrument that expands the vaginal opening to permit viewing of the vagina and cervix.
spermatids      Immature sperm before they develop their flagella (tails).
spermatocytes      The cells that result when spermatogonia undergo mitosis.

spermatogenesis      The process of sperm cell formation.
spermatogenic cells      The cells that give rise to sperm cells.
spermatogonia      The earliest cell in the process of spermatogenesis.
sphenoid      A bone that forms part of the floor of the cranium.
sphincter      A valve-like structure formed from circular bands of muscle. Sphincters are located around various body openings and passages.
sphygmomanometer      An instrument for measuring blood pressure; consists of an inflatable cuff, a pressure bulb used to inflate the cuff, and a device to read the pressure.
spinal nerves      Peripheral nerves that originate from the spinal cord.
spirillum      A spiralshaped bacterium.
spirometer      An instrument that measures the air taken in and expelled from the lungs.
spirometry      A test used to measure breathing capacity.
splint      A device used to immobilize and protect a body part.
splinting catheter      A type of catheter inserted after plastic repair of the ureter; it must remain in place for at least a week after surgery.
sprain      An injury characterized by partial tearing of a ligament that supports a joint, such as the ankle. A sprain may also involve injuries to tendons, muscles, and local blood vessels and contusions of the surrounding soft tissue.
stain      In microbiology, a solution of a dye or group of dyes that impart a color to microorganisms.
standard      A specimen for which test values are already known; used to calibrate test equipment.
Standard Precautions      A combination of Universal Precautions and Body Substance Isolation guidelines; used in hospitals for the care of all patients.

stapes      A small bone in the middle ear that is attached to the inner ear; also called the stirrup.
statement      A form similar to an invoice; contains a courteous reminder to the patient that payment is due.
statute of limitations      A state law that sets a time limit on when a collection suit on a past-due account can legally be filed.
stereoscopy      An xray procedure that uses a specially designed microscope (stereoscopic, or Greenough, microscope) with double eyepieces and objectives to take films at different angles and produce threedimensional images; used primarily to study the skull.
sterile field      An area free of microorganisms used as a work area during a surgical rocedure.
sterile scrub assistant      An assistant who handles sterile equipment during a surgical procedure.
sterilization      The destruction of all microorganisms, including bacterial spores, by specific means.
sterilization indicator      A tag, insert, tape, tube, or strip that confirms that the items in an autoclave have been exposed to the correct volume of steam at the correct temperature for the correct amount of time.
steroid hormone      A hormone derived from steroids that are soluble in lipids and can cross cell membranes very easily.
sternum      A bone that forms the front and middle portion of the rib cage; also called the breastbone or breast plate.
stethoscope      An instrument that amplifies body sounds.
strabismus      A condition that results in a lack of parallel visual axes of the eyes; commonly called crossed eyes.
strain      A muscle injury that results from overexertion or overstretching.
stratum basale      The deepest layer of the epidermis of the skin.
stratum corneum      The most superficial layer of the epidermis of the skin.
stressor      Any stimulus that produces stress.
stress test      A procedure that involves recording an electrocardiogram while the patient is exercising on a stationary bicycle, treadmill, or stair-stepping ergometer, which measures work performed.
striations      Bands produced from the arrangement of filaments in myofibrils in skeletal and cardiac muscle cells.
stroke      A condition that occurs when the blood supply to the brain is impaired. It may cause temporary or permanent damage.
stylus      A penlike instrument that records electrical impulses on ECG paper.
subarachnoid space      An area between the arachnoid mater and the pia mater.
subclinical case      An infection in which the host experiences only some of the symptoms of the infection or milder symptoms than in a full case.
subcutaneous (SC)      Under the skin.
subjective      Pertaining to data that is obtained from conversation with a person or patient.
sublingual      Under the tongue.
sublingual gland      The smallest of the salivary glands.
submandibular gland      The gland that is located in the floor of the mouth.
submucosa      The layer of the alimentary canal located between the mucosa and the muscular layer.
subpoena      A written court order that is addressed to a specific person and requires that person's presence in court on a specific date at a specific time.
substance abuse      The use of a substance in a way that is not medically approved, such as using diet pills to stay awake or consuming large quantities of cough syrup that contains codeine. Substance abusers are not necessarily addicts.
sucrose      An enzyme that digests sugars.
sulci      The grooves on the surface of the cerebrum.
superbill      A form that combines the charges for services rendered, an invoice for payment or insurance co-payment, and all the information for submitting an insurance claim.
superficial      Anatomical term meaning closer to the surface of the body.
superior      Anatomical term meaning above or closer to the head; also called cranial.
supernatant      The liquid portion of a substance from which solids have settled to the bottom, as with a urine specimen after centrifugation.
supination      Turning the palm of the hand upward.
surgeon      A physician who uses hands and medical instruments to diagnose and correct deformities and treat external and internal injuries or disease.
surgical asepsis      The elimination of all microorganisms from objects or working areas; also called sterile technique.
susceptible host      An individual who has little or no immunity to infection by a particular organism.

suture      Fibrous joints in the skull. A surgical stitch made to close a wound.
symmetry      The degree to which one side of the body is the same as the other.
sympathetic      A division of the autonomic nervous system that prepares organs for fight-or-flight (stressful) situations.
symptom      A subjective, or internal, condition felt by a patient, such as pain, headache, or nausea, or another indication that generally cannot be seen or felt by the doctor or measured by instruments.
synaptic knob      The end of the axon branch.
synergist      Muscles that help the prime mover by stabilizing points.
synovial      A type of joint, such as the elbow or knee, that is freely moveable. 
systemic circuit      The route that blood takes from the heart through the body and back to the heart.
systolic pressure      The blood pressure measured when the left ventricle of the heart contracts.
tab      A tapered rectangular or rounded extension at the top of a file folder.
Tabular List      One of two ways that diagnoses are listed in the ICD-9. In the Tabular List, the diagnosis codes are listed in numerical order with additional instructions.
tachycardia      Rapid heart rate, generally in excess of 100 beats per minute.
tachypnea      Abnormally rapid breathing.
targeted résumé      A résumé that is focused on a specific job target.
tarsals      Bones of the ankle.
taste bud      A structure that is made of taste cells (a type of chemoreceptor) and supporting cells.
tax liability      Money withheld from employees' paychecks and held in a separate account that must be used to pay taxes to appropriate government agencies.
telephone triage      A process of determining the level of urgency of each incoming telephone call and how it should be handled.
teletherapy      A radiation therapy technique that allows deeper penetration than brachytherapy; used primarily for deep tumors.
teletype (TTY) device      A specially designed telephone that looks very much like a laptop computer with a cradle for the receiver of a traditional telephone. It is used by the hearing impaired to type communications onto a keyboard.
template      A guide that ensures consistency and accuracy.
temporal      Bones that form the lower sides of the skull.
tendon      A cordlike fibrous tissue that connects muscle to bone.
terminal      Fatal.
testes      The primary organs of the male reproductive system. Testes produce the hormone testosterone.
testosterone      A hormone produced by the testes that maintains the male reproductive structures and male characteristics such as deep voice, body hair, and muscle mass.

tetanus      A disease caused by clostridium tetani living in the soil and water; more commonly called lockjaw. thalamus (th¢al´ -m s) Structure that acts as a relay station for sensory information heading to the cerebral cortex for interpretation; a subdivision of the diencephalon.

therapeutic team      A group of physicians, nurses, medical assistants, and other specialists who work with patients dealing with chronic illness or recovery from major injuries.
thermography      A radiologic procedure in which an infrared camera is used to take photographs that record variations in skin temperature as dark (cool areas),light (warm areas), or shades of gray (areas with temperatures between cool and warm); used to diagnose breast tumors, breast abscesses, and fibrocystic breast disease.
thermotherapy      The application of heat to the body to treat a disorder or injury.
third-party check      A check made out to one recipient and given in payment to another, as with one made out to a patient rather than the medical practice.
third-party payer      A health plan that agrees to carry the risk of paying for patient services.

thrombocytes      See platelets.
thrombophlebitis      Amedical condition that most commonly occurs in leg veins when a blood clot and inflammation develop. (28)
thrombus      A blood clot that forms on the inside of an injured blood vessel wall.
thymosin      A hormone that promotes the production of certain lymphocytes.
thymus gland      A gland that lies between the lungs. It secretes a hormone called thymosin.
thyroid cartilage      The largest cartilage in the larynx. It forms the anterior wall of the larynx.
thyroid hormone      A hormone produced by the thyroid gland that increases energy production, stimulates protein synthesis, and speeds up the repair of damaged tissue.
thyroid stimulating hormone      A hormone that stimulates the thyroid gland to release its hormone.
tibia      The medial bone of the lower leg; commonly called the shin bone.
tickler file      A reminder file for keeping track of time-sensitive obligations.
timed urine specimen      A specimen of a patient's urine collected over a specific time period.
time-specified scheduling      A system of scheduling where patients arrive at regular, specified intervals, assuring the practice a steady stream of patients throughout the day.
tinnitus      An abnormal ringing in the ear.
tissue      A structure that is formed when cells of the same type organize together.
T lymphocyte      A type of nongranular leukocyte that regulates immunologic response; includes helper T cells and suppressor T cells.
topical      Applied to the skin.
tort      In civil law, a breach of some obligation that causes harm or injury to someone.
tower case      A vertical housing for the system unit of a personal computer.
toxicology      The study of poisons or poisonous effects of drugs.
trachea      The part of the respiratory tract between the larynx and the bronchial tree that is tubular and made of rings of cartilage and smooth muscle; also called the windpipe.
tracking      (financial) Watching for changes in spending so as to help control expenses.
traction      The pulling or stretching of the musculoskeletal system to treat dislocated joints, joints afflicted by arthritis or other diseases, and fractured bones.
trade name      A drug's brand or proprietary name.
transcription      The transforming of spoken notes into accurate written form.
transcutaneous absorption      Entry (as of a pathogen) through a cut or crack in the skin.
transdermal      A type of topical drug administration that slowly and evenly releases a systemic drug through the skin directly into the bloodstream; a transdermal unit is also called a patch.
transfer      To give something, such as information, to another party outside the doctor's office.
transverse      Anatomical term that refers to the plane that divides the body into superior and inferior portions.
transverse colon      The segment of the large intestine that crosses the upper abdominal cavity between the ascending and descending colon.
traveler's check      A check purchased and signed at a bank and later signed over to a payee.
treatment, payments and operations (TPO)      The portion of HIPAA that allows the provider to use and share patient health-care information for treatment, payment, and operations (such as quality improvement).
triage      To assess the urgency and types of conditions patients present as well as their immediate medical needs.
TRICARE      A program that provides health-care benefits for families of military personnel and military retirees.
trichinosis      A disease caused by a worm that is usually ingested from undercooked meat.
tricuspid valve      A heart valve that has three cusps and is situated between the right atrium and the right ventricle.
triglycerides      Simple lipids consisting of glycerol (an alcohol) and three fatty acids.
trigone      The triangle formed by the openings of the two ureters and the urethra in the internal floor of the bladder.

troubleshooting      Trying to determine and correct a problem without having to call a service supplier.
trypsin      A pancreatic enzyme that digests proteins.
tubular reabsorption      The second process of urine formation in which the glomerular filtrate flows into the proximal convoluted tubule.
tubular secretion      The third process of urine formation in which substances move out of the blood in the peritubular capillaries into renal tubules.
tutorial      A small program included in a software package designed to give users an overall picture of the product and its functions.
tympanic membrane      A fibrous partition located at the inner end of the ear canal and separating the outer ear from the middle ear; also called the eardrum.

tympanic thermometer      A type of electronic thermometer that measures infrared energy emitted from the tympanic membrane.
ulna      The medial bone of the lower arm.
ultrasonic cleaning      A method of sanitization that involves placing instruments in a cleaning solution in a special receptacle that generates sound waves through the cleaning solution, loosening contaminants. Ultrasonic cleaning is safe for even very fragile instruments.
ultrasound      The noninvasive therapeutic or diagnostic use of ultrasound for examination of internal body structures.
umbilical cord      The rope-like connection between the fetus and the placenta. It contains the umbilical blood vessels.
underbooking      Leaving large, unused gaps in the doctor's schedule; this approach does not make the best use of the doctor's time.
uniform donor card      A legal document that states a person's wish to make a gift upon death of one or more organs for medical research, organ transplants, or placement in a tissue bank.
unit price      The total price of a package divided by the number of items that comprise the package.
Universal Precautions      Specific precautions required by the Department of Health and Human Services' Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to prevent health-care workers from exposing themselves and others to infection by blood-borne pathogens.
unsaturated fats      Fats, including most vegetable oils, which are usually liquid at room temperature and tend to lower blood cholesterol.
urea      Waste product formed by the breakdown of proteins and nucleic acids.
ureters      Long, slender, muscular tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the urinary bladder.
urethra      The tube that conveys urine from the bladder during urination.
uric acid      Waste product formed by the breakdown of proteins and nucleic acids.
urinalysis      The physical, chemical, and microscopic evaluation of urine to obtain information about body health and disease.
urinary catheter      A sterile plastic tube inserted to provide urinary drainage.
urinary pH      A measure of the degree of acidity or alkalinity of urine.
urine specific gravity      A measure of the concentration or amount (total weight) of substances dissolved in urine.
urobilinogen      A colorless compound formed by the breakdown of hemoglobin in the intestines. Elevated levels in urine may indicate increased red blood cell destruction or liver disease, whereas lack of urobilinogen in the urine may suggest total bile duct obstruction.
urologist      A specialist who diagnoses and treats diseases of the kidney, bladder, and urinary system.
use      The sharing, employing, applying, utilizing, examining, or analyzing of individually identifiable health information by employees or other members of an organization's workforce.
uterus      A hollow, muscular organ that functions to receive an embryo and sustain its development; also called the womb.

uvula      The part of the soft palate that hangs down in the back of the throat.
vaccine      A special preparation made from microorganisms and administered to a person to produce reduced sensitivity to, or increased immunity to, an infectious disease.
vagina      A tubular organ that extends from the uterus to the labia.
vaginitis      Inflammation of the vagina characterized by an abnormal vaginal discharge.
varicose veins      Distended veins that result when vein valves are destroyed and blood pools in the veins, causing these veins to dilate.
vas deferens      A tube that connects the epididymis with the urethra and that carries sperm.
vasectomy      A male sterilization procedure in which a section of each vas deferens is removed.
vasoconstriction      The constriction of the muscular wall of an artery to increase blood pressure.
vasodilation      The widening of the muscular wall of an artery to decrease blood pressure.
V code      A code used to identify encounters for reasons other than illness or injury, such as annual checkups, immunizations, and normal childbirth.
vector      A living organism, such as an insect, that carries microorganisms from an infected person to another person.
venipuncture      The puncture of a vein, usually with a needle, for the purpose of drawing blood.
ventilation      Moving air in and out of the lungs; also called breathing.
ventral      See anterior.
ventral root      A portion of the spinal nerve that contains axons of motor neurons only.
ventricle      Interconnected cavities in the brain filled with cerebrospinal fluid.
ventricular fibrillation      An abnormal heart rhythm that is the most common cause of cardiac arrest.
verbalizing      Stating what you believe the patient is suggesting or implying.
vermiform appendix      A structure made mostly of lymphoid tissue and projecting off the cecum. It is commonly referred to as simply the appendix.
vertical file      A filing cabinet featuring pull-out drawers that usually contain a metal frame or bar equipped to handle letter- or legal-sized documents in hanging file folders.
vesicles      Small sacs within the synaptic knobs that contain chemicals called neurotransmitters.
vestibular glands      Glands that secrete mucus into the vestibule of the female during sexual excitement.
vestibule      The area in the inner ear between the semicircular canals and the cochlea.
vial      A small glass bottle with a self-sealing rubber stopper.
vibrio      A comma-shaped bacterium.
virulence      A microorganism's disease-producing power.
virus      One of the smallest known infectious agents, consisting only of nucleic acid surrounded by a protein coat; can live and grow only within the living cells of other organisms.
visceral pericardium      The innermost layer of the pericardium that lies directly on top of the heart; also known as the epicardium.
visceral smooth muscle      A type of smooth muscle containing sheets of muscle that closely contact each other. It is found in the walls of hollow organs such as the stomach, intestines, bladder, and uterus.
vitamins      Organic substances that are essential for normal body growth and maintenance and resistance to infection.
vitreous humor      A jellylike substance that fills the part of the eye behind the lens and helps the eye keep its shape.
voice mail      An advanced form of answering machine that allows a caller to leave a message when the phone line is busy.
void      (legal) A term used to describe something that is not legally enforceable.
volume      The amount of space an object, such as a drug, occupies.
vomer      A thin bone that divides the nasal cavity.
voucher check      A business check with an attached stub, which is kept as a receipt.
walk-in      A patient who arrives without an appointment.
warranty      A contract that specifies free service and replacement of parts for a piece of equipment during a certain period, usually a year.
warts      Flesh-colored skin lesions with distinct round borders that are raised and often have small fingerlike projections; also called verruca.
wave scheduling      A system of scheduling in which the number of patients seen each hour is determined by dividing the hour by the length of the average visit and then giving that number of patients appointments with the doctor at the beginning of each hour.
Western blot test      A blood test used to confirm enzymelinked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) test results for HIV infection.
wet mount      A preparation of a specimen in a liquid that allows the organisms to remain alive and mobile while they are being identified.
white matter      The outer tissue of the spinal cord that is lighter in color than gray matter. It contains myelinated axons.
whole blood      The total volume of plasma and formed elements, or blood in which the elements have not been separated by coagulation or centrifugation.
whole-body skin examination      An examination of the visible top layer of the entire surface of the skin, including the scalp, genital area, and areas between the toes, to look for lesions, especially suspicious moles or precancerous growths.
Wood's light examination      A type of dermatologic examination in which a physician inspects the patient's skin under an ultraviolet lamp in a darkened room.
written-contract account      An agreement between the physician and patient stating that the patient will pay a bill in more than four installments.
X12 837 Health Care Claim      An electronic claim transaction that is the HIPAA Health Care Claim or Equivalent Encounter Information (“HIPAA claim”).
xeroradiography      A radiologic procedure in which xrays are developed with a powder toner, similar to the toner in photocopiers, and the x-ray image is processed on specially treated xerographic paper; used to diagnose breast cancer, abscesses, lesions, or calcifications.
xiphoid process      The lower extension of the breastbone.
yeast      A fungus that grows mainly as a single-celled organism and reproduces by budding.
yolk sac      The sac that holds the materials for the nutrition of the embryo.
zona pellucida      A layer that surrounds the cell membrane of an egg.
zygomatic      The bones that form the prominence of the cheeks.
zygote      The cell that is formed from the union of the egg and sperm.
Z-track method      A technique used when injecting an intramuscular (IM) drug that can irritate subcutaneous tissue; involves pulling the skin and subcutaneous tissue to the side before inserting the needle at the site, creating a zigzag path in the tissue layers that prevents the drug from leaking into the subcutaneous tissue and causing irritation.


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