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About Deafblindness

A-Z of Medical and Therapy Jargon

It is common for families who have a child with vision and hearing impairment to have spent hours with their child in hospital wards, waiting rooms, corridors and cafes, while their child is cared for, has surgery and undergoes testing. Many hours are spent in doctors’ and therapists’ rooms discussing their child’s care and making decisions about what happens next.

medical-teamIn these environments you will most definitely hear jargon from the medical and therapy world. Over time you will understand more and more of these words and may not even notice when you start using them too.

To help this understanding a glossary of terms and abbreviations that you might come across has been provided.

We encourage you to ask questions of the professionals you see, ask for explanations in everyday language. Don’t be afraid to ask again and again to make sure you understand what is happening around you.

Tell us about the words that puzzled you or the longest medical term you ever heard.   Submit a comment


Types of Doctors
Consultant A doctor who has completed medical training who then completes further study in a specific area of medicine, a senior doctor who has completed all of his or her specialist training and been placed on the specialist register in their chosen specialty  Also referred to as a Specialist. See Specialists or Consultants Table below for some examples
General Practitioner (GP) A doctor who treats and prevents illness and provides health education for males and females of all ages
Intern A first year out qualified doctor
Physician Another word for a doctor who practices medicine, but does not perform surgery.  They may focus on a specialty area of medicine or be a GP (In Australia, the term is more commonly used for specialist doctors).
Registrar A senior doctor who is undergoing specialist training
Resident A junior doctor in a hospital ward
Surgeon A specialist doctor in surgery, which involves the cutting of the body, for such reasons as  removing disease, or to repair parts of the body
Specialist A doctor who has completed medical training who then completes further study in a specific area of medicine, a senior doctor who has completed all of his or her specialist training and been placed on the specialist register in their chosen specialty  In a hospital, may also be called a Consultant.
See Specialists or Consultants Table below for some examples.


Specialists or Consultants
This is not a complete list of all types of specialist doctors, but rather ones you are more likely to encounter, if you care for someone congenitally Deafblind.
Cardiologist A doctor who specialises in treating heart disorders
Developmental Paediatrician A doctor who assesses and treats children with developmental delays, developmental disabilities or long-lasting conditions effecting physical or emotional development, learning or behaviour
Endocrinologist A doctor who specialises in the diagnosis and management of hormonal conditions including diabetes, growth, metabolism and infertility
ENT A doctor who specialises in the diagnosis, medical or surgical treatment of diseases and disorders of the ear, nose and throat
Gastroenterologist A doctor who specialises in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the digestive system, from where food goes down to where it comes out, including the oesophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, pancreas, liver, gallbladder and biliary system
Geneticist (Medical) A doctor who specialises in diagnosis and management of conditions and diseases that have been inherited or occur because of changes in a person’s genes (part of their DNA). They also research the causes and likelihood of inheriting  genetic disorders,  and counsel of individuals and families with genetic conditions
Neurologist A doctor who specialises in the treatment of disorders of the brain, spinal cord and nerves in the spine and limbs, including conditions such as strokes and epilepsy
Neurosurgeon A doctor who specialises in using surgery to treat diseases that affect the brain and the spine
Ophthalmologist A doctor who specialises in the diagnosis and treatment  (including surgery) of diseases and disorders of the eye
Orthopaedic Surgeon A doctor who specialises in the medical and surgical management of bones and joints
Paediatrician A doctor who specialises in diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions in infants, children and adolescents
Plastic surgeon A surgeon who specialises in reducing scarring or disfigurement that may occur as a result of accidents, birth defects, or treatment for diseases, such as melanoma. Many plastic surgeons also perform cosmetic surgery that is unrelated to medical conditions
Radiologist A doctor who specializes in the reading and interpretation of X-rays and other medical images


Clinical Nurse Specialist Senior nurse on ward specialty
Enrolled Nurse Ward nurse, qualified to work under the supervision of a registered nurse
Registered Nurse Ward nurse, qualified with a nursing degree. Sometimes called an RN for short
Staff Development Officer Staff training nurse


Other Health Care Professionals
Audiologist A health care professional who is trained to measure hearing loss and related disorders, including balance (vestibular) disorders and tinnitus (ringing in the ears). An audiologist uses a variety of tests and procedures to assess hearing and balance function and fits and provides hearing aids and other devices to help hearing.
Dietician A health care professional who focuses on food and nutrition in order to promote good health and for specific health and digestive tract conditions. They supervise the preparation and service of food, develop modified diets, participate in research, and educate individuals and groups on good nutritional habits
Occupational Therapist A health care professional who enables people to perform meaningful and purposeful activities. They work with individuals to develop, recover, or maintain clients’ activities of daily living, like working (playing or doing school work for a child), cooking, keeping clean, getting dressed and moving around. The therapist helps clients not only to improve their basic movement functions and thinking abilities, but also to compensate for permanent loss of function
Optometrist A health care professional who diagnoses and treats visual deficits using eyeglasses, optical aids or exercises to correct or improve the defect
Orthoptist A health care professional who diagnoses and manages disorders of eye movements and associated vision problems, providing testing and rehabilitation of persons with sight loss and eye diseases to relieve visual symptoms and improve visual performance
Orthotist A health care professional who prescribes and fits orthopaedic appliances, braces and other devices to support weight, prevent or correct deformities, reduce pain or align and improve the function of movable parts of the body
Physiotherapist A health care professional who helps muscles and joints work to their full potential by diagnosing and treating short or long term movement dysfunction, physical disability and pain
Podiatrist A health care professional who diagnoses, prevents and treats medical and surgical conditions of the feet and lower limbs
Prosthetist A health care professional who assesses, manufactures and fits various types of arm and leg prostheses, like artificial limbs or splints
Radiographer A health professional who takes x-ray images using such technologies as x-ray, computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
Social Worker A professional who assists people, groups and communities to address their difficulties and achieve social justice. They provide counseling, obtain social and financial support, legal representation, shelter and offer referral advice to help people who are distressed or overwhelmed by problems such as poverty, substance abuse, homelessness, conflict or parenting difficulties.
Speech Pathologist A health care professional who evaluates and treats communication disorders and swallowing problems


Abbreviations found in medical notes
# fracture
ATW admitted to ward
BF breast fed
BMI body mass index
BNO bowels not open
BO bowels open
BW birth weight
CCU coronary care unit
ED emergency department
ELBW extremely low birth weight
FH family history
FSCM full strength cow’s milk
GP general practitioner
HDA/ HDU  high dependency area/ unit
HPC history of presenting complaint
ICU intensive care unit
KRF Keifland rotation forceps
LP light perception
LSCS lower section caesarean section
N/S nursing staff
NAD no abnormality detected
NBF Neville-Barnes forceps
NBM nil by mouth
NICU neonatal intensive care unit
NLP no light perception
NOK next of kin
OT occupational therapy or operating theatre
PMH past medical history
PSH past surgical history
pt patient
PT physiotherapy
QoL quality of life
Reg registrar medical officer
RMO resident medical officer
Rx treatment
SH social history
SICU surgical intensive care unit
SP or ST speech pathology or speech therapy
SVD spontaneous vaginal delivery
SW social worker
TPR temperature, pulse, respiration
VLBW very low birth weight


Abbreviations for medical tests or investigations
ABG arterial blood gases
APTT activated prothrombin time test
BSL blood sugar level
BUSE blood urea and serum electrolyte
ENT ear, nose, throat
ESR erythrocyte sedimentation rate
FBC full blood count
FBS fasting blood sugar
FEV1 forced expiratory volume in 1 second
FVC forced vital capacity
GTT glucose tolerance test
Hb haemoglobin
Ix investigation
LFT liver function test
M, C & S microscopy, culture and sensitivity
MSU midstream urine
PCV packed cell volume
PF peak flow
PTT prothrombin time test
RBC/ RCC red blood cell (count)
RFT/ PFT respiratory function test/ pulmonary function test
SBR serum bilirubin
U & E urea and elecrolytes
UO urine output
WBC/ WCC white blood cell (count)


Abbreviations for how often treatment occurs
b/w between
bd twice day (bis die)
D/C discharge
D0, D1, D2 day zero, day one, day two (post-op, post admission)
DNA did not attend
DOA date of admission
mane morning
nocte night
prn as required (pro re nata)
Q2h, Q3h every 2 hours, every 3 hours etc
qid four times daily (quarter die)
s/b seen by
stat immediately
tds three times daily (ter die sumendus)


Abbreviations for conditions and related details
ABR auditory brainstem response
AXR abdominal x-ray
BP blood pressure
BPD bronchopulmonary dysplasia
bpm beats per minute
CAT computerized axial tomography
CF cystic fibrosis
CMV cytomegalovirus
CNNLD chronic neonatal lung disease
CNS central nervous system
COR conditioned orientated response
CP cerebral palsy
CSF cerebrosprinal fluid
CTEV congenital talipes equinovarus
CVS cardiovascular system
CXR chest x-ray
DD developmental delay
DMD Duchenne muscular dystrophy
ECG electrocardiograph
EEG electroencephagraph
EMG electromyography
EUA evacuation/evaluation under anaesthetic
FTT failure to thrive
GIT gastrointestinal tract
GOR gastro-oesophageal reflux
HMD hyaline membrane disease
HR heart rate
ICP intracranial pressure
IDC indwelling catheter
IRT/ UTA immune-reactive trypsinogen/ immunoreactive trypsinogen assay (CF test – heel prick)
IV intravenous
IVP intravenous pyelogram
JCA/ JRA juvenile chronic arthritic/juvenile rheumatoid arthritis
LHF left heart failure
LIH left inguinal hernia
LL lower limb/lower lobe
LP lumbar puncture
MD muscular dystrophy
MRI magnetic resonance imaging
MVA motor vehicle accident
N & V nausea and vomiting
NGT nasogastric tube
NMR nuclear magnetic resonance
NPA nasal pharyngeal aspirate
O2 oxygen
PDA patent ductus arteriosus
PKU phenylketonuria (metabolic test – heel prick)
PS pulmonary stenosis
PUO pyrexia (fever) of unknown origin
RDS respiratory distress syndrome
RHF right heart failure
RIH right inguinal hernia
RSV respiratory syncitial virus
SIDS sudden infant death syndrome
SMA spinal muscular atrophy
T & A tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy
TML trachea midline
TOF trachea-oesophageal fistula
UA umbilical artery
UL upper limb
URTI upper respiratory tract infection
US ultrasound
UTI urinary tract infection
VF ventricular failure
VSD ventricular septal defect


DD differential diagnosis
Dx diagnosis
PD provisional diagnosis