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Published August 08, 2010, 12:00 AM

Medical terminology

Acute – describes an illness that comes abruptly and often lasts a short time, such as an ear infection or sore throat.

Acute – describes an illness that comes abruptly and often lasts a short time, such as an ear infection or sore throat.

Chronic – describes an illness or a condition that lasts for 3 months or more, such as diabetes or heart disease.

Family medicine – medical specialty that provides comprehensive health care for all ages and both sexes.

Hospitalist – a hospital-based general physician who assumes the care of hospitalized patients in place of their primary care physician.

Internal medicine – medical specialty dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of adults. Internists often go on to sub-specialty areas rather than practicing general internal medicine.

Medical home – a model of health care coordination that places teams of physicians, nurses and mid-levels in partnership with patients and their families in an effort to improve access, quality and cost of care. Medical homes are often used to manage chronic illnesses.

Mid-levels – nurse practitioners and physician assistants.

Nurse practitioner – a registered nurse who has completed advanced training in a specialty such as pediatrics or internal medicine. An NP may be a primary provider of care and prescribe medications.

Obstetrics – medical specialty involving care for women and their children during pregnancy and labor and after giving birth.

Patient-centered medical home (PCMH) – a type of medical home advocated by major medical organizations that is applied to primary care.

Pediatrics – medical specialty concerned with the health, growth and development of infants, children and adolescents.

Physician assistant – a medical practitioner who works under the supervision of a licensed physician. A PA can perform examinations and order tests up to a certain level of complexity.

Primary care – group of medical specialties that includes family physicians, pediatricians and general internists. Obstetrics is sometimes considered a primary care specialty.

Reimbursement – a method of payment to a health care provider, usually by a third-party payer (such as an insurance company), for a medical service.

Residency – a period of on-the-job training for graduates of medical school that is required for certification in a specialty area.

Specialty – a branch of medicine or nursing in which a medical professional is specially qualified to practice. Specialties include general surgery and family medicine.

Sub-specialty – a narrow branch of a specialty area. Orthopedic surgery is a sub-specialty of the general surgery specialty.

Sources: www.medicinenet.com, www.medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com