A  |  B  |  C  |  D  |  E  |  F  |  G  |  H  |  I  |  J  |  K  |  L  |  M  |  N  |  O  |  P  |  Q  |  R  |  S  |  T  |  U  |  V  |  W  |  X  |  Y  |  Z





Agar Plate - A culture medium.


Aggregation - A clustering or coming together of substances. (i.e., cells).


Air Embolism - Air bubble(s) in the veins, right atrium, ventricle or capillaries.


Amino Acids - Organic components of protein. Divided into essential (obtained by food and not produced by the body) and nonessential (can be produced by the body and are not required in the diet).


Antimicrobial - A chemical substance which inhibits the growth or multiplication of microorganisms (bacteria, virus, fungi, yeasts or molds).


Aseptic Technique - Method used to prevent contamination of a wound or operative site.


Antiseptic - A germicide that is used on skin or living tissue for the purpose of inhibiting or destroying microorganisms. Examples include alcohols, chlorhexidine, chlorine, hexachlorophene, iodine, chloroxylenol (PCMX), quaternary ammonium compounds and triclosan.


AVA - Association for Vascular Access.




Biofilm - A structured community of microorganisms encapsulated within a self-developed polymeric matrix and adherent to a living or inert surface. Biofilms are also often characterized by surface attachment, structural heterogeneity, genetic diversity, complex community interactions, and an extracellular matrix of polymeric substances.


BSI - Bloodstream Infection.




Care Bundles - Groupings of best practices with respect to a disease process that individually improve care, but when applied together result in substantially greater improvement. The science supporting the bundle components is sufficiently established to be considered "standard of care".


CDC - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, located in Atlanta, Georgia.


Central Venous Catheter - Catheter inserted into the central circulation with its tip residing in the superior vena cava above the junction of the right atrium and parallel to the vessel wall. Its distal tip is positioned at a level above either the azygos vein or the carina of the trachea (which is better visualized).


CFU (Colony-forming unit) - The minimum number of separable cells on the surface of or in semi-solid agar medium which gives rise to a visible colony of progeny and is on the order of tens of millions. CFUs may consist of pairs, chains and clusters, as well as single cells and are often expressed as colony-forming units per milliliter (CFU/ml).


Contaminated - State of having been in contact with microorganisms. As used in healthcare, it generally refers to microorganisms capable of producing disease or infection.


Contamination - Introduction of pathogens or infectious material from one source to another.


Cross-contamination - Movement of pathogens from one source to another.




Direct Contact Transmission - Physical transfer of microorganisms between a susceptible host and an infected or colonized person.


Disinfectant - A chemical agent used on inanimate objects (i.e., nonliving) (e.g., floors, walls, sinks) to destroy virtually all recognized pathogenic microorganisms, but not necessarily all microbial forms (e.g., bacterial endospores).


Disinfection - The destruction of pathogenic and other kinds of microorganisms by physical or chemical means. Disinfection is less lethal than sterilization because it destroys most recognized pathogenic microorganisms, but not necessarily all microbial forms, such as bacterial spores. Disinfection does not ensure the margin of safety associated with sterilization processes.




Empiric - Derived from experiment and observation rather than theory.


Evidence-based guidelines - In general these are documents that contain systematically developed recommendations, algorithms, and other information to assist healthcare decision making for specific clinical circumstances. The guideline development process includes a verifiable systematic literature search and review of evidence published in peer reviewed journals. They are further reviewed for the quality of evidence and strength of recommendations. Evidence-based clinical practice guidelines undergo formal peer review.


Endogenous - Originating or produced within an organism, tissue or cell: endogenous secretions.


Engineering Controls - Controls (e.g., sharps disposal containers, self-sheathing needles, safer medical devices, such as sharps with engineered sharps injury protections and needleless systems) intended to isolate or remove the bloodborne pathogens hazard from the workplace.


Epidemiology - The branch of medicine that deals with the study of the causes, distribution, and control of disease in populations.


Exogenous - Developed or originating outside the body; originating from outside the organism.








HAC (Hospital-acquired Conditions) - conditions that do not originate from a patient's original admitting diagnosis.


HAI (Hospital-acquired Infections) - Any infection associated with a medical or surgical intervention. The term "health-care-associated" replaces "nosocomial," which is limited to adverse infectious outcomes occurring in hospitals.


Hand Hygiene - A general term that applies to handwashing, antiseptic handwash, antiseptic hand rub, and surgical hand antisepsis.




Iatrogenic - Refers to adverse effects or complications caused by or resulting from medical treatment or advice. In addition to harmful consequences of actions by physicians, iatrogenesis can also refer to actions by other healthcare professionals, such as psychologists, therapists, pharmacists, nurses, dentists, and others.


Immunity - Protection against a disease. Immunity is indicated by the presence of antibodies in the blood and can usually be determined with a laboratory test.


Immunocompromised - Having an immune system that has been impaired by disease or treatment.


Incident - An unusual occurrence that requires documentation and action because of potential or implied consequences.


Inert - Having little or no tendency to react with other chemicals.


Infection - Presence and growth of a pathogenic microorganism.


INS - Intravenous Nurses Society. An association of nurses whose focus is on IV therapy. Society publishes Standards of Practice for IV therapy.


Intubate - The process of putting a tube into a hollow organ or passageway, often into the airway.




JCAHO - Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations.






Lateral - Pertaining to the side.




Maximal Barrier Precautions - Precautions consist of the use of sterile gloves, long-sleeved gowns, and a full-size drape, as well as a non-sterile mask (and often a non-sterile cap) during central venous catheter insertion.


Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus- Gram positive bacteria; can cause a range of illnesses from minor skin infections, such as pimples to impetigo to life-threatening diseases, such as pneumonia and meningitis.


Microflora - The bacteria and fungi that inhabit an area.


Microorganisms - Organisms of microscopic or submicroscopic size; examples are bacteria and fungi.


Mortality Rate - Calculated by dividing the number of people who have died of a particular disease during a given period of time by the total population at risk.




NIOSH - The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health is the federal agency responsible for conducting research and making recommendations for the prevention of work-related disease and injury. The Institute is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Nosocomial - Describes an infection acquired in a hospital as a result of medical care (see definition for healthcare-associated infection).




Opportunistic Infection - An infection caused by a microorganism that does not ordinarily cause disease but is capable of doing so under certain host conditions (e.g., impaired immune response).


OSHA - Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Branch of the Department of Labor responsible for the safe working conditions of wage earners.




Pathogenesis - the origin and development of a disease; more specifically, it's the way a microbe (bacteria, virus, etc.) causes disease in its host.


Prospective Payment - Any method of paying hospitals or other health programs in which rates of payment are established in advance for a defined period, usually a year.


Primary Diagnosis - The principal condition most responsible for the length of a patient's hospital stay; it also significantly influences the management/treatment of the patient while in the hospital.


Purulent - Containing or producing pus.




QIP - Quality improvement program created to review procedures performed by staff to ensure quality care of patients.




Radiopaque - Ability to be detected by radiographic examination.




Sepsis - Presence of infectious microorganisms or their toxins in the bloodstream.


Sequelae - Condition following; resulting from a disease.


Slime Layer - An unorganized gel-like material that is loosely attached to the exterior of some bacterial cells; a diffused layer of polysaccharide (complex sugar) exterior to the bacterial cell wall.


Standard - A basis for comparison; a reference point against which other things can be evaluated.


Standard / Universal Precautions - Refers to a system of infection control which assumes that every direct contact with body fluids is infectious and requires every employee exposed to direct contact with body fluids to be protected.


Sterilization - The use of a physical or chemical procedure to destroy all microorganisms including large numbers of resistant bacterial spores.










VAP – Ventilator-associated pneumonia