Acute care facility: Most hospitals and medical centers are acute care facilities. They provide care for people with illness or injuries.  This includes diagnostic testing and medical or surgical treatment. 


Advance directive: An advance directive is a legal document completed by a person capable of making his or her own decisions. It contains written instructions about medical care that are used when the person cannot make healthcare choices.  This may happen if the person is injured or very ill.  According to New Jersey law, there are three kinds of advanced directives: 

  • An instruction directive, which is sometimes called a living will.
  • A proxy directive, which allows the capable person to appoint a health care agent.
  • A combined directive, which contains the information found in both of the other kinds of directives.

For more details, see the terms health care agentinstruction directive and proxy directive.

Learn more about HackensackUMC advanced directives.


Advanced Practice Nurse (APN):  Nurses that have earned a master’s degree in nursing. There are different types of APNs.  These include the Nurse Practitioner, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Certified Nurse Midwife, and Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist. These nurses can examine and diagnose patients.  They also treat patients, including prescribing medicine for them.


Bioethics: The area of study that identifies and resolves ethical issues that arise in healthcare. Learn more about medical ethics.


Catheter: A small tube placed into a patient’s body.  There are different kinds of catheters.


Computed tomography scan (CT scan): A test that uses x-rays to take pictures of a part or all of the body.  A CT Scan produces images in cross section. Learn more about a CT scan


Diagnosis: A process used to identify the illness or disease that is causing a person’s medical problems.  This includes:

  • Asking a person about his or her symptoms
  • Examining a person by looking at or touching the part of the body that has the symptoms
  • Performing medical tests such as blood tests, x-rays, EKGs, etc.

Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG):  A test that is done to learn more about the electrical activity or rhythm of the heart by looking at the heartbeat.  Learn more about an electrocardiogram.


Emergency Medicine: A medical specialty that gives people immediate medical care when they have a sudden or unexpected illness or accident.  Learn more about emergency medicine.


EMTALA - Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA). This is a federal law. It states that a person with a medical emergency cannot be sent away from an emergency department just because he or she does not have health insurance.  It requires the emergency staff to screen the person.  Treatment must be given if it is needed to stabilize the emergency condition.  Learn more about EMTALA.


Health Care Agent: An individual who has been appointed by a capable person to make health care decisions if the person is not able to make those choices. This may happen if the person is injured or very ill.  A legal form called a proxy directive must be completed by the capable person to appoint someone as a health care agent.  This person is sometimes called a healthcare proxy, healthcare representative or power of attorney for healthcare. The agent can make any care decisions that the person could make if able. 

  • The person should also appoint a second individual to be an alternate healthcare agent.  The alternate would make decisions when the person is not able to do so and the healthcare agent is not available.  

For more details, see the term proxy directive.

Learn more about health care agents.


Health Insurance – A plan that pays for some of the cost of health care.  Health insurance can be provided by a person’s employer.  The cost of the insurance can also be shared between a person and their employer.  Some people buy their health insurance on their own.  Health insurance plans may be different from each other in how much they pay for a person’s or a family’s medical costs.  There may also be differences in the types of medical care that is paid for (coverage).

Learn more about health insurance.

Learn more about what emergency services are covered by health insurance.


Heart Monitor: A screen that displays the heart’s rhythm. Patches are placed on a patient’s chest.  Wires run from the patches to the monitor to show the rate at which the heart is beating and the rhythm of the heart.


HIPAA – Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).  This is a federal law.  It provides a number of protections for patients receiving medical care. It makes rules about health insurance, and the electronic transfer of health information.  It also has a Privacy Rule.  This rule gives patients choices about the privacy of their health information.

Learn more about HIPAA and health insurance

Learn more about health information privacy.


Hospice Care: A plan of care for patients who are expected to die within six months. These patients have a disease or condition that can no longer be treated successfully.  The focus of hospice is comfort, not cure.  Hospice care can be provided in the patient’s home or in an inpatient hospice facility.  Learn more about hospice care.


Inpatient: A person who is staying in the hospital to receive medical care.


Instruction Directive: A legal form completed by a person capable of making his or her own decisions. It describes the types of medical care the person would or would not choose if he or she could make these decisions.  It is only used when the person cannot make healthcare choices, such as when the person is injured or very ill. It is also called a living will.

Learn more about HackensackUMC advanced directives.


Medicaid: A health insurance program for people with low incomes.  The rules about who is eligible for Medicaid may vary in different states.

Medicaid: Getting Started

Medicaid at a Glance

New Jersey Medicaid


Medicare: A health insurance program provided by the United States government.  Most people who have Medicare are 65 years or older.  Some people with disabilities may also be eligible for Medicare.  Learn more about Medicare.


Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI):  A medical test that is done in a machine using a magnetic field and radio waves.  The test makes images of a person’s organs (heart, liver, kidney, etc.) and other tissues. Learn more about MRI Scans


Notary: A person who can verify signatures on legal documents. This includes advance directives and/or living wills. In New Jersey notaries are appointed by the State Treasurer.Notaries have other tasks that they are appointed to do.  Learn more about notaries in New Jersey.


Nursing Home: A facility that provides care to people who cannot be cared for at home or in an assisted living facility.  They do not need skilled medical care in a hospital. Most people in nursing homes are older adults. Learn more about Nursing homes.


Outpatient:  A patient who receives healthcare that does not require them to stay in the hospital.


Palliative care: A plan of care that focuses on patient comfort.  Palliative care can be provided for many different diseases or conditions.  It is especially important at the end-of-life. This care is provided by medical specialists.  It includes the management of pain and other symptoms.  Learn more about Palliative care.


Physician Assistant (PA): Health care professionals who have completed an accredited PA program.  They have earned an associate’s degree, a bachelor's degree or a master’s degree.  Most PA programs require students to have health care experience before starting the program. Students spend at least two years in college training to become a physician assistant.  They must take an exam and become licensed before they can see patients.


Primary Health Insurance: Some people have more than one health insurance plan. This is most common when two people are married and each gets health insurance from their employer.  The primary health insurance is the policy a person gets from their employer. 


Proxy Directive: A legal form completed by a person capable of making his or her own decisions. In the form, the person appoints an individual to make health care decisions if he or she is ever unable to do so because of injury or illness.  This individual may be called a health care agent, healthcare proxy, healthcare representative, or power of attorney for healthcare.  For more details, see the term healthcare agent.

Learn more about HackensackUMC advanced directives.


Secondary Health Insurance:  Some people have more than one health insurance plan. Secondary health insurance may be the policy a person has from their partner’s employer.  A person may also have secondary health insurance if they continue to work after age 65 and have health insurance from their employer.  In this case, Medicare may be a person’s secondary insurance. In most cases primary health insurance covers treatment for the insured person.  Secondary insurance may pay for what is left after the primary health insurance plan pays for a medical service.


Specialist: A doctor with advanced training in a particular area of medicine. In general, they become experts about a particular body system.  Learn more about the most common medical specialties.


Stethoscope: A tool that a doctor or nurse uses to listen to a person’s heart and/or lungs.


Subacute Care Facility: An institution that provides continued treatment for illnesses or injuries.  Most people are transferred there from a hospital or medical center.  This occurs when a patient still needs medical treatment but does not need the amount of care provided by the hospital or medical center.


Triage: The process of placing patients coming to an emergency department into different categories.  This is done to decide the order in which patients will be seen.  Those with life threatening or very serious conditions will receive treatment first. 


Trauma Surgeon: A doctor who has advanced training in surgery.  They are usually board certified in surgery and surgical critical care.  Learn more about the specialty of Surgical Critical Care.  


Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (TDD): A device used by a deaf person that has a display screen and a keyboard.  The message that a person types on the keyboard is displayed on the screen.


TeleTYpe (TTY):  A device used by a deaf person that has a display screen and a keyboard.  The message that a person types on the keyboard is displayed on the screen.


X-ray: A test that use radiation to take images of parts of the body.  Learn more about X-rays.

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