Common nursing phrases for patient care

Written by matthew caines
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Common nursing phrases for patient care
Nurses will discuss many things with doctor that you might not understand. (Thomas Northcut/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

When you visit a sick relative or friend in hospital you will no doubt hear a lot of medical phrases and terms that you don't understand. Nursing words and abbreviations like CVP, Chest PT, Halo and EKG can be difficult to understand if you don't know what they stand for. Particularly when the professionals are treating patientsagainst time, you might not have the chance to ask what a phrase or term means. But if you know some of the basic nursing phrases and words, your understanding of a friend or relative's treatment will be much more informed.

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Common Abbreviations

Nurses use certain abbreviations in phrases to save time telling others about equipment and treatments that have long and complicated names. Any nurse that mentions "running an ABG" is actually talking about doing an Arterial Blood Gas test, which determines the amount of oxygen in the blood and informs the nurse how much oxygen therapy is needed.

If a nurse also mentions "running an EKG," he or she will be testing the heart for any defects with an Electrocardiogram. An EEG is a test -- called an electroencephalogram -- that assesses the patient's brain functioning . "Fitting a TPN" is when a nurse needs to intravenously provide nutrition to the body when the stomach or intestines cannot be used.

Emergency Medicine

Any phrase that contains the abbreviation CPR means that the patient needs cardiopulmonary resuscitation, which is the emergency medical treatments that aim to restore breathing and/or heartbeat. This could be through mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, medication, ventilation or by electric shock. "Checking for vital signs" is another phrase that might be used in an emergency setting and it means that the nurse should be checking the patient's current temperature, rate of breathing, heart rate and blood pressure.

Common nursing phrases for patient care
CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) may involve electric shock. (Pixland/Pixland/Getty Images)

General Phrases and Terms

Some nursing phrases are not serious and might not relate to the patient at all. "Doing the rounds" for example is a term that describes the scheduled visits by a care team (nurses and doctors) to check and discuss a patient's care. Any nurse that also mentions "weaning" in a phrase will be talking about gradually removing the patient's treatment and medication as their condition improves. "Rehabilitation" is a term nurses use to indicate the treatment that should help the patient return to the highest-possible level of functioning and health.

Phrases for Death

Though nobody wants to hear any phrase declaring a loved one as dead, nurses and doctors still use particular terms to explain the situation or manner of death. Any phrase that contains the abbreviation DNR simply means that the patient should not be resuscitated (Do Not Resuscitate) and is dead. "No code" is another phrase that the nurse might use to explain a DNR. "Brain death" is a term that indicates the patient has legally died due to the brain failing to work and a "coma" is when the patient is in a deep state of unconsciousness that she cannot be awakened from.

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