ER – translating the medical jargon

After 15 years of emergencies flying through the doors of County General my medical knowledge has definitely improved. I now know that no patient particularly wants to be “traked” or “bagged” and if they call for the shock paddles you’re in trouble. But if you’re not such an experienced viewer you might find the following glossary of medical vocab improves your understanding of the trauma scenes.

Next time you watch ER you might hear something like this….

“I’ve got a GSW to the chest – give me an ABG, CBC, chem 7, cardiac enzymes, and coag panel.”

“Pupils are blown, BP’s falling – looks like a tension pneumo on the right. I’m going to have to intubate.”  

GSW – gunshot wound

ABG – arterial blood gases. A test where blood is drawn and measured for oxygen content so that the doctor knows if the patient is getting enough oxygen into the bloodstream

CBC – complete blood count

CHEM 7 – a blood test that measures the basic electrolytes in blood: sodium, chloride, potassium, carbon dioxide, blood urea nitrogen (BUN), creatinine, and glucose

Cardiac enzymes – a damaged heart muscle releases enzymes over a period of time and, by drawing cardiac enzymes, you can tell if the patient has had a heart attack

Coag panel – an assessment of how well the blood is coagulating (clotting)

Blown pupils – dilated pupils (when they remain large in bright lights). Dilated pupils show signs of disease, trauma or use of drugs

BP – Blood pressure

Tension Pheumo – a collapsed lung where air escapes into the chest every time the patient breathes

Intubation – placing a tube down the patients throat into their chest to help them breathe 

Listen out for the following terms too – they pop up in most episodes:

 Bag ‘em – put somebody on a respirator (after they’ve intubated)

Hypertension (he’s hypertensive) – high blood pressure

Hypotension (he’s hypotensive) – low blood pressure

Acute MI – acute myocardial infarction (a heart attack)

MVA – motor vehicle accident

DOA – dead on arrival

Hope this helps. Check out this site if you need any further guidance.


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2 Responses to ER – translating the medical jargon

  1. patrick says:

    What about when they say ‘stat’ – i know what it means but where does it come from?

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