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Medical Malpractice Glossary

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Acetaminophen: A medication effective for relieving mild pain and fever. It is also used as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory.

Accolate: Medicine prescribed for prophylaxis and treatment of chronic asthma in patients 12 years and older. Has shown to cause liver dysfunction, particularly in females.

Accutane: A brand of prescription medicine used to treat severe nodular acne that has not responded to other treatments such as antibiotics. Accutane may cause serious side effects, including birth defects and mental disorders.

Addiction: A physiological and psychological compulsion for a habit-forming substance. In extreme cases, an addiction may become an overwhelming obsession.

Adjudicate: To decide a legal case.

Affidavit: A voluntary statement or declaration of facts that has been written down and confirmed under oath.

Agonist Opioid: A powerful type of narcotic that works by blocking signals to pain receptors in the brain. This process also raises the level of dopamine in the brain, creating a feeling of euphoria.

Allegation: A statement made in a pleading by one of the parties to the action and tells what that party intends to prove.

Analgesic: Generic term for medications that relieve pain. Some analgesics like aspirin have a low pain-relieving threshold, whereas others like Oxycodone have a much higher ceiling.

Anesthesia Injury: An injury sustained from incorrectly administered anesthetics.

Answer: Written response in which the defendant admits or denies the allegations contained in the complaint.

Antidepressants: A type of drug used to control or reduce depression. Some antidepressants have been found to have serious side effects.

Apgar Score: When a child is born, a physician will take note of his or her activity – muscle tone, pulse, grimace, reflex irritability, appearance, skin color, and respiration. These observations are made once immediately following birth and once five minutes later. A score of zero to ten is then calculated. A low score alerts a doctor that resuscitation may be necessary and a high score reassures a doctor that the baby is healthy.

Arava: An oral medicine prescribed to slow the progress of rheumatoid arthritis. Arava® may cause liver dysfunction and birth defects.

Arbitration: A process for deciding a legal dispute without having to go to court.

Assumption of risk: A defendant’s allegation that the injured plaintiff recognized the danger of the plaintiff’s course of action but, nonetheless, willingly chose to risk such danger.

Asbestos: A fibrous silicate mineral that was once commonly used in construction. People who have been exposed to asbestos over a period of time may develop asbestosis, mesothelioma, and lung cancer.

Asbestosis: A disease that afflicts people who have been exposed asbestos fibers. Scar tissue builds up in the lungs, causing breathing difficulty and an increased risk of infection. Ataxia: Jerky, uncoordinated movements.

Athetosis: Involuntary movements – uncontrolled/unwanted movements.