Scanning Home
General Scanning Information

Some Medical Terms for Scanner Monitors

Note: The following list of medical terms s a compilation from several online posts, plus my own personal research, any corrections, or additions to the list is always apperciated. This list and other info can be found on my homepage at Note, this page contains a number of terms that may be specific to the Ontario Canada ambulance service.

***Note i have NO medical training, and this list isn't intended to represent any kind of medical reference.

ACR: Ambulance Call Report, a M.O.H Document filled out by the ambulance crew to document the chronology of the call.
Abrasion: An external injury where a rough surface injures the skin in a manner like sandpaper would.
Airway: A tube placed into the patient's throat that keeps the breathing passage open and/or prevents oxygen or rescue breathing air from inflating the stomach. Air/oxygen goes only into the lungs and the esophagus is blocked. This is usually used on unconscious patients because conscious ones vomit when you put something in their throat.
Ambulatory: Patient able to walk.
Amputation: Removal of a patient's extremity.
Anaphylactic Shock: Shock caused by allergic reaction.
Apnea: The absence of breathing.
Asphyxiation: Suffocation.
Avulsion: a tissue partly or completely torn off by a mechanical injury such as an avulsed ear lobe.

Bradycardia: heart rate is slower than normal.

C-Spine: "cervical spine"- the top seven vertebrae in the neck area. Injuries in this area are life-threatening because they could sever the spinal cord. A general goal is to keep the neck in a fixed position if injuries are suspected. In response to the command, "don't move your neck" the patient invariably nods.
CA: Short for Cancer.
Cardiac Arrest: The sudden stopping of an effective cardiac functioning of the heart
Catheter: Tube inserted into the body to inject or withdraw fluid.
CHF: Congestive Heart Failure.
Chief Complaint: primary problem that resulted in the patient requesting treatment.
Compound Fracture: When a broken bone protrudes through the patient's skin.
Contusion: A bruise.
Contraction: Shortening of muscles.
Concussion: Injury to the brain caused by a blow.
Convulsion: Seizures.
COPD: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.
Cutaneous: Relating to the skin.
CPR: Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation. The patient is no longer alive and chest compressions as well as rescue breathing are being used in an attempt to revive the patient.
Cyanotic: means the patient's skin is unusually blue; caused by lack of oxygen.
CVA: Cerebral Vascular Accident, Stroke when blood supply to the brain is impaired.

D5W: a solution of sugar water in sterile water, used to re hydrate patients.
Defibrillator: microprocessor-controlled defibrillator that senses the patient's heart rhythm. In some situations, the heart beats in a non-productive way so that insignificant or no blood flow is generated. This is called "fibrillation." The defibrillator shocks the heart muscle, stopping it momentarily, so that a normal heartbeat will resume.
Diastolic Heart Pressure: lower pressure noted during ventricular relaxation as the heart fills with blood.
Drug Box: (The BOX) locked box containing the drugs used by paramedics under doctors orders.
Direct Pressure: when an artery is bleeding EMS providers press against the wound or an "upstream" artery to reduce blood loss.
Dyspnea: Troubled or difficult breathing.

Edema: Fluid that escapes into the tissue and causing swelling.
Epistaxis:Nose Bleed.

Full Arrest: The patient's heart is not beating.

GI: Gastrointestinal
Glasgow Coma Scale: A way of grading the neurologic status of patients, esp. head injury and stroke patients in the field. It is based on scoring various neuro parameters such as degree of alertness, motor ability, response to pain etc. A point score for each is generated and the total added up. The best (a normal, walking-talking patient) is 15 and the worst (usually moribund) is 3. This gives a rough guide to their survival.
Gurney: The wheeled stretcher used to move the patient.

HBD: (Has Been Drinking) Intoxicated or under the influence of alcohol.
Hypovolemic Shock: Shock induced by reduction in blood volume, often from hemorraging

I.V.: An intra-veinous solution; common types are "D5W" (5% dextrose in water), lactate Ringers (usually used to build volume because of a patient's blood loss), saline solution (for infusion of medications); see T.K.O.

Jaundice: Means the patient's skin and/or eyes are unusually yellow.

Ked Sled: a scoop stretcher that splits into two halves. It is slipped under a patient and snapped together in order to "scoop" them up. Also called a scoop stretcher.

Laceration: Tearing or cutting of skin.
L.O.C.: loss-of-consciousness or level-of-consciousness.
Lumbar: relating to the lower back.

MAST trousers: Military Anti-Shock Trousers are inflatable trousers that force blood from the legs into the upper body. This is used to get blood to the vital organs in cases where the patient has lost significant amounts of blood.
MI: Miocardial Infarction: Damage or death of an area of the heart's muscle resulting in a reduction of blood flow.
M.O.H: Ontario's Ministry of Health, the government body responsible of Ontario's Ambulance Service.

Nasal Cannula: Apperatus for supplying supplemental oxygen through small prong inserted in the patients nose.
Non-ambulatory: patient cannot walk.

Occluded: Obstructed.
OD: OverDose.
Oriented times _____ (1,2,3,or 4): patient is aware of (1) what they were/are doing, (2) what time and day it is, (3) their own identity, and (4) their location. Oriented times four means the patient knows all four. The number is the sum of correct answers. For example, a patient knows, "My name is Joe Smith and I remember that I was riding my bicycle." The patient does not know where they are or what time of day it is and is therefore oriented times two.
Oxygen via Cannula: oxygen is administered through a two-prong nasal cannula in situations where low flows are required and the patient breathes on their own.
Oxygen via Mask: oxygen is administered through a mask in situations where high flows are required but the patient breathes on their own.
Oxygen via Positive Pressure: the patient has oxygen administered under pressure through a mask or airway in situations where the patient is in respiratory distress or not breathing on their own.

P.E.R.L.: pupils are equal in size and react to light.
Posturing: response to pain where the patient's arms, legs, hands, and/or feet move inappropriately in response to certain stimulus. Is an indicator of certain types of injuries.

Ringers Lactate: Sterile solution used as a electrolyte replenishment.
Respiratory distress: difficulty breathing.
Responsive to painful stimulus: a patient with a lower-than-normal level of consciousness can be evaluated in part by checking to see if there is a response to pain. A common way to do this is to rub the patient's sternum with the sharp point of the EMS-provider's knuckles. This should cause a grimace, moan, or some similar response.

Saline Solution: A solution of salts.
S.O.B.: shortness of breath.
Semiconscious: Partly Conscious
Seizure: or seizure activity - usually refers to uncontrolled muscle activity associated with a diminished level-of-consciousness. Two common causes of seizures are epilepsy and (in young children) febrile seizures are caused by a high-grade fever.
Splint: a rigid material used to immobilize broken bones in order to prevent further tissue damage or injury.
Stokes: a basket-like stretcher used in rescue situations where the non-ambulatory patient must be transported over rough terrain or up/down a cliff.
Suction: a device used to remove foreign matter such as vomit or blood from the patient's mouth in order to prevent it from blocking breathing.
Systolic Blood Pressure: The higher blood pressure noted during ventricular contraction

T1: M.O.H term for the time the call was received.
T2: M.O.H term for the time the Ambulance Crew was notififed.
T3: M.O.H term for the time the Ambulance crew was Mobile.
T4: M.O.H term for the time Crew arrived on scene.
Tachycardia: (pronounced tack-ee-car-dee-ya) heart rate is faster than normal (over 100 beats per minute).
Thoracic/Thorax: relating to the middle back.
TIA: Transient Ischemic Attack.
T.K.O.: means "to keep open"; a routine, precautionary I.V. started in case physicians decide a drug must be administered immediately.
Traction Splint: a splint that pulls on the end of a broken leg. This is most often used for a broken leg above the knee and results in greatly-reduced pain for the patient.
Traumatic full arrest: a full arrest as the result of an impact, fall, or mechanical injury.

Ventricular Fibrillation: disorganized twitching of the heart muscle which results in the heart not pumping blood.
Vital Signs: Pulse,Blood Pressure, respiratory rate, temperature and L.O.C.

Witnessed arrest: someone saw the patient "go down" and there is some idea of how long the patient was not breathing.

Any additions or corrections are appreciated. (Donald Bowlby)
11 Mar 1996

Scanning Home
General Scanning Information

This site hosted by

These pages created by Jim Fordyce. © 2005 Jim Fordyce