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Legal Glossary

Glossary of Medical Malpractice Law Terms

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z #

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ABO Blood Type Incompatibility: Results when the blood type of the fetus, or developing child, differs from the blood type of the mother. When incompatibility occurs, the mother creates antibodies to defend against the blood type of the infant. These antibodies cross the placenta and begin destroying the fetus' blood cells. The result is that the fetus develops jaundice.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

Ataxia: Jerky, uncoordinated movements.

Ataxic Cerebral Palsy: Low muscle tone and poor coordination of movements.

Athetoid Cerebral Palsy: About 10 percent of children have this type of CP. It is caused by damage to the cerebellum or basal ganglia, which are areas of the brain responsible for enabling smooth and controlled body movements. Patients frequently have trouble speaking, eating, reaching, grasping and other movements requiring coordinated movements.

Athetosis: Involuntary movements - uncontrolled/unwanted movements.