Healthcare buzzwords

Categories: Blog,Caregivers,Families,Seniors


What is it with buzzwords? It doesn’t matter what you do for a living, or what sport you play, or what hobby you have, everything has buzzwords. If you’re an attorney your speak a completely different language. If you’re a physician you say things with way too many syllables. If you’re a seamstress you know what a “Darning Mushroom” is. If you work in the manufacturing department of a car company you use words like CHMSL. Depending on how old you are, do remember when the third brake light became mandatory on a car?   It was called a CHMSL, Center High Mount Stop Lamp.  Long ago the blinker on a car was called an “Idiot Stick”, implying how easy it was to use. Today most drivers don’t even use it, making the name appropriate again. But I digress, whatever your interests, you know the buzz words making it easy to communicate.

When I first became a caregiver back in 2009 I didn’t know where to begin….with anything! I was lost. One of the things that were very frustrating was the healthcare buzzwords everyone used. I was hearing either acronyms (EMR, EHR, PHR, PRN, TPN) or cute little words like “CABG”, that I had no idea what any of them meant. Of course, just like everything else, the more I learned and used the healthcare buzzwords the easier and more natural they became.  But the best thing was, using these foreign terms helped me to identify with medical personnel. I could understand what they were talking about and I could add to the conversation and I understood the treatment procedures they were telling me. This allowed me to grow and become a better caregiver.  It is a known fact that a person who is more engaged with their health information will receive better health care. When you ask questions, educate yourself to the point that you can make suggestions, know the correct medical history, the medical personnel are more likely to listen.

For example, when I was told my Mother had a colocutaneous fistula repair and needed to be on a TPN, I, like most, said “Whaaa, a what?” When I learned what a colocutaneous fistula repair was and how a TPN relates to that, my new answer was, “So she will come home on a woundVAC and the TPN medicine will be delivered to the house along with the insulin, and the TPN will run for 12 hours per day?” The more healthcare buzzwords I learned, the more medical answers I received and the easier my caregiving duties became. The more appropriate questions I asked, the more time and tips I received from the medical professionals. One time my Mom was in the hospital and her PCP (primary care physician), expressed a concern that she was not swallowing very well and they were going to send her in for surgery to insert a feeding tube in her stomach. I replied, “Are you against first trying an IV/IG for 5 days?” The PCP admitted that he didn’t know what an IV/IG was and when I told him it is a routine treatment for patients with myasthenia gravis (which my Mother has), he was impressed and told me he will look it up. He agreed to put her on the IV/IG instead of surgically implanting a feeding tube. I appreciated his honesty but the fact is, it is impossible for physicians to know everything, and for us to expect that is unrealistic. Whenever my Mother gets a new diagnosis, I educated myself so I can be more engaged with her treatments.

When you’re a caregiver, you have to be the eyes of the physician and the voice of the patient. Educate yourself about your loved one and their condition(s). You will see how much easier interactions with their medical professionals will be. And start with learning some frequently used healthcare buzzwords (


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Author: MIMI Medical Staff