Terms and Definitions

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Adverse events

Any undesirable reaction to a medication, biologic, or procedure. This term may also be used to refer to the consequences or lack of response to a medication.

Agreement states

States that meet the minimum requirements of the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Many of these states have additional safety requirements.


A drug that relieves pain


The state of being without sensation. It may be local, regional or general. Anesthesia created by the administration of drugs is reversible and includes analgesia and muscle relaxation. Additional elements of general anesthesia are loss of consciousness, amnesia and altered autonomic homeostatic reflexes.

Aseptic surgery

Surgery performed using aseptic technique which is defined as proper preparation of patient, surgeon, equipment, and surgical suite to ensure the lowest possible number of pathogenic organisms thus minimizing infection rates


The evaluation or judgment of the status of quality of a particular condition, situation, or other subject of appraisal, such as the clinical assessment of the patient’s conditions as a prerequisite to making a prognosis

Boarded veterinarian/specialist

A veterinary specialist, as recognized by the AVMA, is a graduate veterinarian who has successfully completed the process of board certification in an AVMA-recognized veterinary specialty organization (e.g., board or college). To become board certified, a veterinarian must have extensive post-graduate training and experience and pass a credential review and examination set by the given specialty organization.

Client compliance

The action of a client accepting the veterinarian’s recommendations which results in optimal patient care


A communication between two or more veterinarians concerning the diagnosis and/or care of a patient

Contagious disease

A disease that can be transmitted from animal to animal


To rid of contamination, such as organisms

Deep sink

Made of impervious material; depth allows the surgeon to scrub up to the elbows without touching the sink or faucet


Destroying infection-producing organisms

Hazardous waste

Biological substance or material that has the potential to cause injury or disease


Not allowing entrance or passage

Internal controls

All measures, systems, and protocols used by a practice to ensure against errors, waste, fraud, human and/or patient health risks, improper disposal of medications, and diversion or abuse of controlled substances. Internal controls are intended to ensure the reliability of the practice’s inventory and promote compliance with appropriate regulatory agencies.

Ionizing radiation

Any kind of radiation capable of removing an orbital electron from an atom with which it interacts. This includes X-rays and fluoroscopy.

Laminar flow

A uniform, unidirectional flow near a solid boundary

Major surgery

Major surgeries are invasive surgical procedures that include, but are not limited to, laparotomies, ovariohysterectomies, thoracotomies, orthopedic procedures, and reconstructive procedures

Medical grade surgical lights

Lights that provide focal lumination output that is conducive for surgery. These lights limit the maximum heat exposure to the patient and diffuse color. Many models include removable, autoclaveable handles.

Minimum inhibitory concentrations (MIC)

The lowest concentration of antibiotic that kills a particular bacterium

Minor/minimally invasive surgery

Relatively non-invasive surgical procedures limited to cutaneous or incisional biopsies, minor wound debridement, and minor wound suturing. Other minor elective procedures such as excision of small cutaneous and subcutaneous masses are included.

Negative air flow

Pressure less than that of the ambient atmosphere. Negative air pressure within a room will cause air to flow into the room from the outside whenever a door or window is opened.


Pertaining to, or originating in, a hospital

Parental nutrition

Nutrition through methods such as subcutaneous, intramuscular, or intravenous injection; not through the alimentary canal

Polymerase chain reaction (PCR)

A rapid technique for in-vitro amplification of specific DNA or RNA sequences

Positive pressure

Condition that exists when more air is supplied to a space than is exhausted so the air pressure within that space is greater than that in surrounding areas; when a door is opened the air flows out of the room


To prevent something from happening

Readily available

On the premises

Receiving veterinarian

The veterinarian (or group of veterinarians) to whom a patient is referred

Recognized veterinary specialist

A veterinarian who is certified by an AVMA- recognized veterinary specialty organization


The transfer of responsibility for diagnosis and/or care from a referring veterinarian to a receiving veterinarian

Referring veterinarian

The veterinarian (or group of veterinarians) providing care at the time of the referral


To restore to normal or near normal function


Sedation is a state characterized by central depression accompanied by drowsiness, during which the patient is generally unaware of its surroundings but responsive to noxious manipulation

Sentinel event

Adverse events that are of such a magnitude that serious morbidity or mortality occurs. The recognition and study of adverse and sentinel events can provide valuable information for individual patients, clients, and practices, as well as veterinary medicine in general.


Characteristics describing a given patient such as species, breed, age, gender, and reproductive status


At once

Sterile field

The area around the prepped surgical site which includes, but may not be limited to, the area above the sterile drapes covering the patient and instrument trays and extending vertically to the ceiling


The act of incising living tissue or performing an operative procedure

Surgical assistant

A person who has scrubbed in and is involved with the surgical procedure and functioning within the sterile field

Surgical suite

The designated room where only aseptic surgical procedures are performed

Ultra-short general anesthesia

I.e., injectables only

Zoonotic disease

Disease of animals transmissible to humans