Definitions, Meanings, Explanations

We try to shed some light on a few industry specific terms.

AAMI: Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation.

ACCE: Stands for the American College of Clinical Engineering.  Clinical engineering education is based in classical engineering and supplemented with a combination of courses in physiology, human factors, systems analysis, medical terminology, measurement and instrumentation. It is often capped with a practicum or internship in a university hospital setting, giving the student a firm grounding in hospital operations, protocols and ethics.

Airway Clearance Device: A device which is used to clear out the passage wherein the air enters. The air usually comes from the lungs, which are used to regulate respiration.

Agglutination Viewer: Used to view the clumping bacteria, also known as red cells being held together by the antibodies or agglutinins in the body.

Alarm Fatigue: This is a concept that is based on the premise that alarms are used to effectively monitor the condition of any patient that requires the utmost attention. Sometimes the patients and nurses stop responding to these alarms, which is called alarm fatigue. Constantly alarming systems in hospitals desensitize medical professionals thereby causing them to ignore the alert or delay medical attention to patients.

Alarm Management: This is a comprehensive platform for security application that combines the utilization of alarm systems and traditional video surveillance system, alarm linkage and surveillance function in order to monitor and be aware of the patient’s condition.

Analyzer, Blood Culture: A device that is used to analyze blood culture. This is done to detect infections that may spread in the bloodstream.

Analyzer, Hemoglobin: Pertains to the analysis of the red protein in the blood, which takes charge of transporting oxygen into the blood.

Analyzer, Immunoassay: This is done to detect or measure a particular kind of protein or other substances using their properties like antibodies and antigens.

Analyzer, Ketone: Used to analyze the organic compound that has a carbonyl group bound to two alkyl groups, which are attached through the oxidation of secondary alcohols.

Apheresis System: An apparatus that separates a particular constituent from the donor/patient’s blood and returns the remainder to the main circulation.  This is used to treat autoimmune disease.

Audiometer: This is an instrument used to measure the sensitivity of one’s hearing. Using this instrument, audible frequencies are measured.

Benchmarking: A process that compares an organization’s practices, processes and products against the world’s best. It is an indication of how well a firm is performing compared to their competitor’s in certain specific areas and functions. (Source: Chapter 8, Understanding Business 9th Ed by Nickels, McHugh, McHugh 2010).

Biomedical Engineering: A branch of engineering that deals with obtaining answers to various biomedical problems, such as biological and medical treatment.

Biomedical Equipment Technician: Person who maintains any medical equipment that physically contacts a person.  This technician also performs diagnosis or analysis related to the patient.  This person also learns and teaches how to use the equipment properly and safely.

Bone Densitometer: This is a method used to determine the mass of the bone by measuring the way it absorbs the radiation through the skeleton. There are different techniques for do this.

Camera: A medical device used to take photographs internally and externally.  Also could be attached to a laser.

Cell Disrupter: This is a process or method used to release the biological molecules from the insides of the cells.

Cell Harvester: The process is used to collect cells from an experimental population. The connection is made among microorganisms that are already grown in order to make sure that biochemical is extracted.

Cell Saver: This is a device used to capture and even hold blood during a surgery.  The reason for this is for the blood to be returned after surgery.

Clinical Engineering: Clinical engineering is responsible for the application and implementation of medical technology in order to optimize healthcare delivery. Clinical engineering also involves training and supervising BMETs or the biomedical equipment technicians, working with the governmental regulators during hospital inspections or audits, and serving as technological consultants from other hospital staff.

CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services): A federal agency under the United States Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). It administers the Medicare program and works for the partnership of state governments in administrating the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), portability standards of health insurance and Medicaid.

Coulter Counter: This apparatus is known for its purpose in counting and even sizing cells and particles. This is, for instance, used to count prokaryotic or bacteria.

Defibrillator: This is an electrical device that delivers direct current as a form of shock to make the heart work again during a cardiac arrest. It helps the heart to beat on the right rhythmical contraction through the shock that is delivered to the heart. This type of device comes in both external and internal units that are widely used for people who frequently suffer from heart problems or ventricular fibrillation. There is also an implantable cardiac defibrillator (ICD). This is a small electronic device implanted inside the chest to prevent sudden death from cardiac arrest due to life-threatening, abnormally fast heart rhythms (tachycardia).  The ICD is capable of monitoring the heart rhythm. When the heart is beating normally, the device remains inactive.  If the heart develops a life-threatening tachycardia, the ICD delivers an electric shock to the heart in order to terminate the abnormal rhythm and return the heart rhythm to normal.

Dialysis Machine: This is a medical machine used for dialysis and serves as a blood filtration device in order to remove excess waste products and excess water from damaged, missing or dysfunctional kidneys. This machine can also be considered an artificial kidney. It typically consists of plastic tubing, which carries the removed blood into the dialyser and hollow fibers bundle, which then forms as a semipermeable membrane in order to filter impurities.  When the filtration process is complete, the cleansed blood is returned back to the patient.

Electronic Medical Record: An electronic medical record is a systematic collection of electronic health information about individual patients or populations. (Source: Gunter, Tracy D., and Nicolas P. Terry. “The emergence of national electronic health record architectures in the United States and Australia: Models, Costs, and Questions.” Journal of Medical Internet Research. 7.1, 2005) ECG: This is also called electrocardiogram. This test is done to check if there are problems with the activity of the patient’s heart.

EEG Evoked Potential Unit: The way potentials between various electrodes where recorded. This is the process of writing the electrical activity happening on the brain.

Electrocardiograph Machine: A machine used to translate the electrical activity that happens in the heart. This is done over a period of time.

Electroencephalograph: This is a machine used to obtain a record of the electrical activity happening in the brain. This usually measures the voltage fluctuations by using electrodes on the scalp.

Electromyograph: This is an instrument in the field of medicine used to record the electrical waves that are connected with the activity of skeletal muscles.

Enteral Feeding Pump: A device that promotes nutrition through continuous feeding, feeding and flushing or intermittent feeding.

Electronic Medical Record: EMR is a complete representation of the data that patients have from the records placed and recorded on paper. This is the data that contain different information that ranges from radiology, pathology and clinically-based information structured and combined in a form that is digitally made. Through this representation, medical records can all be accessed electronically.

Ergometer: An apparatus that measures the amount of work performed by a single muscle or several muscles.

FDA : Stands for Food and Drug Administration. This is an agency that is responsible for promoting and protecting public health with supervision and regulation of food safety, dietary supplements and tobacco products as well as over-the-counter and prescription drugs.


Healthcare Technology Management: This is a profession that studies the fundamental part of maintaining and managing medical devices to be used or being used in several healthcare settings including home, hospital usage and even in the field or used in the doctor’s office. The processes involved in healthcare technology management are planning, selection and medical device acquisition.

Hydrotherapy Tank: A tanked machine that produces both hot and cold water in one session.

Imaging: The process of producing a clinical image for medical examination by using ultrasound, x-rays, radionuclide scanning, thermograph, MRI and CT.  This is a technique and process used in order to create images of the human body or some of its parts and functions for medical and clinical purposes. As a discipline, imaging also incorporates the use of technology such as radiology, endoscopy, medical photography, thermography and microscopy.

Infusion Pump: An electronic device used to deliver measured amounts of fluids, medication and nutrients from a reservoir into a patient’s circulatory system in a controlled manner. This can be achieved through the vein (intravenous) or through the skin (subcutaneous). Infusion rates can be continuous, intermittent or patient controlled, depending on the drug infused and the patient requirements.

Infusion:  The continuous slow introduction of a solution.  Example: into a vein.

Internal Cardiac Defibrillator:  A device put within the body that is designed to recognize certain types of abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias) and correct them.

Incident Investigation: This is the process for analyzing both events that happened in an actual situation and other near misses. This requires follow-ups and a legal approach to clearing a particular incident that has happened in a certain place. All areas are investigated thoroughly to manage and get results from a particular incident.

Insufflator : A device that facilitates coughing by providing positive and negative pressures.

Irradiator: This is a material used to irradiate other materials which have the potential to create a level of radiation that exceeds 500 rad.

Irrigator: This is a device used to disperse liquid that is being used for vine irrigation. Sometimes, this is done to wash out used medicated fluid.

ISO, Independent Service Organization: ISO stands for Independent Service Organization, an independent organization that provides hospital/laboratory equipment repair and medical device technical services.

Interoperability: This is the capability of many different organizations and medical systems to work together. Newer and more advanced systems are being introduced in the medical industry at a very high pace. All these systems should have an interoperability feature in order to work seamlessly with each other.

Joint Commission (TJC): An independent, non-profit organization that accredits and certifies more than 20,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States. Joint Commission accreditation and certification is recognized nationwide as a symbol of quality that reflects an organization’s commitment to meeting certain performance standards. Also their mission is to continuously improve health care for the public, in collaboration with other stakeholders, by evaluating health care organizations and inspiring them to excel in providing safe and effective care of the highest quality and value.

Joint Commission International (JCI): The international division of Joint Commission. “The mission of JCI is to continuously improve the safety and quality of care in the international community through the provision of education and advisory services and international accreditation and certification.” (Mission statement from JCI web site)

Keratometer: This is sometimes called an ophthalmometer. This is an instrument used to diagnose and measure the curvature of the surface of the anterior.

Laser:  Used to destroy or cut a particular tissue that is considered to be diseased.  This procedure is done to remove tissues without harming the normal and healthy tissues.

Lithotripter: A device that breaks down gallstones and kidney stones by allowing shockwaves to pass through a water-filled tub where the patient sits.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): A scanning machine that uses powerful radio waves and magnets to see and produce images of the body.

Magnetoencepholography System: A machine that utilizes brain-produced electrical currents and records the magnetic fields produced from these currents.

Medical Incident: Any event or situation that causes injury or complications to a patient during surgery or by a member of healthcare staff to a patient during medical processes.

Nuclear Medicine: This is a branch of medical science that deals with the therapeutic and diagnostic applications of radio-nuclides; this usually includes sealed radiation systems. It is also known as Endo-radiology.

Polymerase Chain Reaction:  A chaining together of many simple molecules to form a more complex molecule with different properties.

Oto/ophthalmoscope: A device used in examining the interior of the eye.

Patient Safety: This is the new healthcare discipline which puts emphasis on analysis, reporting and prevention of medical errors that typically lead to unfavorable healthcare events. Patient safety is also defined as the error and adverse effects prevention from patients related to healthcare. This is the discipline that WHO has established in order to enhance the quality of healthcare that medical professionals are providing their patients.

Percussor: A device used for chest and reflex examinations that appears to be a small hammer with a rubber head.

Perimeter: An optical device used to measure the discriminative abilities of the parts of the eye’s retina.

Peritoneal Dialysis Unit: A machine used for treating patients with severe and chronic kidney diseases.

Pneumotachometer: A device that ensures signal linearity with dead space by converting gas flow into proportional pressure signal on central mesh’s either side.

Pump, Stockert, Single Roller: A machine that generates pulsatile flow of blood.

Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID): This is a non-contact and wireless application of radio-frequency via electromagnetic fields for transferring data in order to automatically recognize the tags in various objects.

Risk Analysis: This is a process wherein potential dangers that may be present with patients and people who are staying in the healthcare facility are defined and analyzed. The risks may be due to human-caused events or natural incidents that may affect not only one person, but all people staying in that particular area as well. With the use of risk analysis report, objectives that are technology-related can be aligned to the facility’s objectives, which may prevent any dangerous events from happening. A certain report may come in either qualitative, which is frequently used due to its ease, or quantitative, which uses numerical probabilities, that determines an attempt whenever an attack occurs.

Risk Management: This is administered by a healthcare facility, form or provider for identifying, evaluating and correcting the potential risks leading to possible injuries to staff members, patients or visitors. This also covers the potential risks of damages or losses on the property of the facility and should be prevented to avoid injuries or loss. It is important that a particular healthcare provider has a risk management system in order to make their facility as safe as possible for people staying and working in it and prevent possible damages from happening.

RTLS/Real-Time Location System: This is a system being used and implemented in hospitals that involves the usage of technologies such as RFID, or radio-frequency identification, in order to track the location of all equipment and patients. Cost savings, improved care for patients and increased productivity are just some of the advantages that can be obtained from using the real-time location system.

Sentinel Event: A type of medical event that requires immediate attention by initiating preventive measures and emergency intervention. This can refer to any unexpected incident that causes death, physical injury or psychological impacts. Examples include suicide while a patient is under 24/7 surveillance, the unexpected death of a full-term infant, an infant abduction or discharge to the wrong family, rape, haemolytic transfusion reaction due to mismatched blood, and surgery on the wrong patient or wrong body part.

Slit Lamp: An instrument with a high-intensity light source attached. It is used to direct a thin beam of light to the eye.

Spectrophotometer: A device that determines solid particle concentration in suspensions, particularly blood samples.

Spirometer: A device that measures the air volume received and released by the lungs.

Stadiometer With Counter: A counter-recording instrument that gives an accurate and direct reading of the height of the subject.

Subcutaneous:  Something that is being, living, occurring or administered under the skin.

Syringe Pump: A device that produces accurate and precise dosing fluids used for chemical and pharmaceutical research.

Thermocycler: A lab apparatus used to amplify DNA segments using the polymerase chain reaction.

Tympanometer: A device used to cause vibrations to the middle ear in order to test its condition.

Ventilator: A machine that mechanically assists a patient in the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide, a process sometimes referred to as artificial respiration.

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