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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
ConsultantA 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
InternA first year out qualified doctor
PhysicianAnother 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).
RegistrarA senior doctor who is undergoing specialist training
ResidentA junior doctor in a hospital ward
SurgeonA specialist doctor in surgery, which involves the cutting of the body, for such reasons as  removing disease, or to repair parts of the body
SpecialistA 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.
CardiologistA doctor who specialises in treating heart disorders
Developmental PaediatricianA doctor who assesses and treats children with developmental delays, developmental disabilities or long-lasting conditions effecting physical or emotional development, learning or behaviour
EndocrinologistA doctor who specialises in the diagnosis and management of hormonal conditions including diabetes, growth, metabolism and infertility
ENTA doctor who specialises in the diagnosis, medical or surgical treatment of diseases and disorders of the ear, nose and throat
GastroenterologistA 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
NeurologistA 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
NeurosurgeonA doctor who specialises in using surgery to treat diseases that affect the brain and the spine
OphthalmologistA doctor who specialises in the diagnosis and treatment  (including surgery) of diseases and disorders of the eye
Orthopaedic SurgeonA doctor who specialises in the medical and surgical management of bones and joints
PaediatricianA doctor who specialises in diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions in infants, children and adolescents
Plastic surgeonA 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
RadiologistA doctor who specializes in the reading and interpretation of X-rays and other medical images


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


Other Health Care Professionals
AudiologistA 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.
DieticianA 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 TherapistA 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
OptometristA health care professional who diagnoses and treats visual deficits using eyeglasses, optical aids or exercises to correct or improve the defect
OrthoptistA 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
OrthotistA 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
PhysiotherapistA 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
PodiatristA health care professional who diagnoses, prevents and treats medical and surgical conditions of the feet and lower limbs
ProsthetistA health care professional who assesses, manufactures and fits various types of arm and leg prostheses, like artificial limbs or splints
RadiographerA health professional who takes x-ray images using such technologies as x-ray, computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
Social WorkerA 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 PathologistA health care professional who evaluates and treats communication disorders and swallowing problems


Abbreviations found in medical notes
ATWadmitted to ward
BFbreast fed
BMIbody mass index
BNObowels not open
BObowels open
BWbirth weight
CCUcoronary care unit
EDemergency department
ELBWextremely low birth weight
FHfamily history
FSCMfull strength cow’s milk
GPgeneral practitioner
HDA/ HDU high dependency area/ unit
HPChistory of presenting complaint
ICUintensive care unit
KRFKeifland rotation forceps
LPlight perception
LSCSlower section caesarean section
N/Snursing staff
NADno abnormality detected
NBFNeville-Barnes forceps
NBMnil by mouth
NICUneonatal intensive care unit
NLPno light perception
NOKnext of kin
OToccupational therapy or operating theatre
PMHpast medical history
PSHpast surgical history
QoLquality of life
Regregistrar medical officer
RMOresident medical officer
SHsocial history
SICUsurgical intensive care unit
SP or STspeech pathology or speech therapy
SVDspontaneous vaginal delivery
SWsocial worker
TPRtemperature, pulse, respiration
VLBWvery low birth weight


Abbreviations for medical tests or investigations
ABGarterial blood gases
APTTactivated prothrombin time test
BSLblood sugar level
BUSEblood urea and serum electrolyte
ENTear, nose, throat
ESRerythrocyte sedimentation rate
FBCfull blood count
FBSfasting blood sugar
FEV1forced expiratory volume in 1 second
FVCforced vital capacity
GTTglucose tolerance test
LFTliver function test
M, C & Smicroscopy, culture and sensitivity
MSUmidstream urine
PCVpacked cell volume
PFpeak flow
PTTprothrombin time test
RBC/ RCCred blood cell (count)
RFT/ PFTrespiratory function test/ pulmonary function test
SBRserum bilirubin
U & Eurea and elecrolytes
UOurine output
WBC/ WCCwhite blood cell (count)


Abbreviations for how often treatment occurs
bdtwice day (bis die)
D0, D1, D2day zero, day one, day two (post-op, post admission)
DNAdid not attend
DOAdate of admission
prnas required (pro re nata)
Q2h, Q3hevery 2 hours, every 3 hours etc
qidfour times daily (quarter die)
s/bseen by
tdsthree times daily (ter die sumendus)


Abbreviations for conditions and related details
ABRauditory brainstem response
AXRabdominal x-ray
BPblood pressure
BPDbronchopulmonary dysplasia
bpmbeats per minute
CATcomputerized axial tomography
CFcystic fibrosis
CNNLDchronic neonatal lung disease
CNScentral nervous system
CORconditioned orientated response
CPcerebral palsy
CSFcerebrosprinal fluid
CTEVcongenital talipes equinovarus
CVScardiovascular system
CXRchest x-ray
DDdevelopmental delay
DMDDuchenne muscular dystrophy
EUAevacuation/evaluation under anaesthetic
FTTfailure to thrive
GITgastrointestinal tract
GORgastro-oesophageal reflux
HMDhyaline membrane disease
HRheart rate
ICPintracranial pressure
IDCindwelling catheter
IRT/ UTAimmune-reactive trypsinogen/ immunoreactive trypsinogen assay (CF test – heel prick)
IVPintravenous pyelogram
JCA/ JRAjuvenile chronic arthritic/juvenile rheumatoid arthritis
LHFleft heart failure
LIHleft inguinal hernia
LLlower limb/lower lobe
LPlumbar puncture
MDmuscular dystrophy
MRImagnetic resonance imaging
MVAmotor vehicle accident
N & Vnausea and vomiting
NGTnasogastric tube
NMRnuclear magnetic resonance
NPAnasal pharyngeal aspirate
PDApatent ductus arteriosus
PKUphenylketonuria (metabolic test – heel prick)
PSpulmonary stenosis
PUOpyrexia (fever) of unknown origin
RDSrespiratory distress syndrome
RHFright heart failure
RIHright inguinal hernia
RSVrespiratory syncitial virus
SIDSsudden infant death syndrome
SMAspinal muscular atrophy
T & Atonsillectomy and adenoidectomy
TMLtrachea midline
TOFtrachea-oesophageal fistula
UAumbilical artery
ULupper limb
URTIupper respiratory tract infection
UTIurinary tract infection
VFventricular failure
VSDventricular septal defect


DDdifferential diagnosis
PDprovisional diagnosis