Terminology Used While Caring For Your Loved One
When your family member is in the Critical Care Unit, you may hear words that frighten you because you do not know what they mean. Here are a few definitions to help you better understand what is happening with your loved one.
Angina - Chest pain.
Antibiotics - Drugs used to kill bacteria and control infection.
Arterial Blood Gas (ABGs or Blood Gas) - Blood test to measure the amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the patient's blood.
Arterial Line (A-Line) - Small catheter placed in an artery and used to monitor blood pressure.
Brain Death - All functions performed by the brain have stopped and will not ever function again.
Cardiac - Relating to the heart.
Cardiac Monitor (Telemetry) - A machine that displays the electrical activity of the patient's heart. The monitor may also display other values such as blood pressure.
Catheter - A small tube used to deliver fluid, medications, and nutrients. A catheter may also be placed to empty the patient's bladder.
Central Line (CVP) - A catheter, inserted by a physician into a large vein, that is both an IV access and pressure monitoring device.
CPAP/BIPAP - This is a noninvasive mask attached to a small machine that sends pressurized amounts of oxygen to the patient's lungs. The patient does all of his/her own breathing. This device may be used in patients with sleep apnea or those who choose not to be on a respirator. This device will help the patient decrease chemical levels in the blood (CO2), which can put the patient in a sleepy state and eventually stop the drive to breathe if it becomes too high.
Dysrhythmia - Irregular heartbeat
Electrode - A monitoring patch for the EKG placed on the chest.
EKG/ECG - Machine that produces a tracing of the electrical activity of the heart.
Endotracheal Tube (ET Tube) - A tube that enters the patient's airway to deliver oxygen to the lungs, to assist with breathing and to help remove secretions from the lungs. The patient cannot speak to you when this tube is in place. However, the patient will be able to speak once the tube is removed.
Extubation - Removal of the endotracheal tube.
Face Mask - Plastic mask placed on the patient's face to deliver oxygen. Patients can speak when this mask is in place.
Foley - Catheter that enters the bladder to empty urine.
Hyperalimentation (TPN) - This is a special nutritional formula given by vein to patients who cannot eat regular food.
Hypo/Hyperthermia Blanket - This device can help to raise or lower a patient's temperature if it is abnormal.
Intubation - Inserting an endotracheal tube into a patient's airway.
IV-Intravenous - A small tube or catheter that is placed in the patient's vein to deliver fluid solutions, medications, nutrients or blood.
Myocardial Infarction (MI) - Heart attack.
NG Tube (Nasogastric Tube) - A plastic tube that is inserted in the patient's nose and placed into the stomach to provide nutrition or to remove excess fluids or gas.
Oxygen - A gas that we all breathe, which may be needed in higher concentration by ill patients.
Pulse Oximeter - A probe placed on the finger that monitors oxygen levels in the blood.
Pulmonary - Having to do with the lungs.
Respirator (ventilator, breathing machine, mechanical ventilation or life support) - A machine that is attached to the endotracheal tube or trach tube to aid the patient in breathing by delivering oxygen.
Sepsis - Presence of bacteria in the blood, which can lead to organ failure or death.
Swan Ganz Catheter - Catheter that enters the heart to monitor pressures inside the heart.
Tracheostomy or Trach - Small hole placed into a patient's windpipe to assist the patient in breathing better.
Trach Tube - A plastic tube placed into the tracheostomy.
Vital Signs - Measurements of blood pressure, pulse, temperature, and rate of breathing.