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Glossary

Accreditation—An evaluation process in which an official group examines a health care organization to ensure that it is meeting certain standards established by experts in the field.

ACEI—An Angiotension Converting Enzyme Inhibitor is a category of medication used in the treatment of heart failure and hypertension. An ACEI drug enables blood vessels to dilate and improve blood flow.

Abdomen—A part of the body from below the ribs to the pelvis. Some call it the stomach.

Anesthesiologist—A doctor who delivers drugs that remove sensation before and during surgery. For mothers giving birth, the anesthesiologist maintains safe pain relief during labor and delivery, and delivers pain control during labor and appropriate sedation for cesarean deliveries.

Antibiotics—A medication that kills the germs that cause pneumonia. These germs may be bacteria or fungus. Viruses also can cause pneumonia, but they are rarely susceptible to antibiotics.

Arrhythmia—An abnormal heartbeat rhythm.

Average length of stay—The average number of days spent in the hospital. For a new mother, this includes the time before and after childbirth.

Blood cultures—A blood test to check for bacteria or fungus in the blood.

Cardiomyopathy—A disease of the heart muscle. This can be caused by inherited factors, viral infection, or coronary artery disease.

Cesarean section—A surgical procedure to deliver a baby. The doctor makes an incision through the mother's abdomen and uterus. Also referred to as a C-section, Cesarean, and Cesarean birth.

Complications—Any disease or other unwanted effect that occurs during the course of because of another medical problem. For pregnancy and childbirth, this can mean problems that develop during the pregnancy, labor, delivery, or post-partum period.

Congenital heart disease—A heart problem you were born with.

Congestive heart failure—A condition in which the heart can't pump enough blood and oxygen to the body's other organs. It is usually caused by a heart disorder.

Cord blood—The blood that is in the umbilical cord.

Data Collection—The process of getting raw information, either from a single source or from multiple sources.

Data Editing—The process of correcting errors or supplying missing information.

Data Sources—The primary source document(s) used for collecting information.

Database—An organized, comprehensive collection of information.

Diagnosis—The identification of a disease or condition from its signs and symptoms.

Doula—A non-medical person experienced and trained in childbirth whose role is to comfort and support the mother and family before, during, and after birth. A doula provides the mother with information, support, reassurance, and assistance throughout the birth process, including assistance with breast feeding.

DRG—Diagnosis-Related Group, or DRG, is a term used for classifying medical conditions into standard categories. The federal Medicare system identifies more than 500 DRGs. For each DRG, there is a guideline for the patient’s standard treatment and length of stay in a hospital. Hospitals use DRGs to define a patient’s illness for billing purposes. Click here for more information. Click here for a list of the medical conditions used in the Hospital Guide.

Drug—Any substance taken by mouth, injection, or applied locally to prevent or treat a medical disorder.

Episiotomy—During childbirth, an incision the doctor makes into the mother’s perineum to prevent tearing.

Fallopian tubes—The tubes in a woman’s reproductive system that move the egg to the uterus (also called the womb).

Fetus— An unborn baby, from the beginning of the third month of pregnancy until birth.

HealthChoice—Maryland’s managed care program for Medicaid recipients. Medicaid patients who qualify for HealthChoice will choose a Primary Care Provider and be enrolled in a Managed Care Organization (MCO) of their choice. These MCOs offer more free health care services than standard Medicaid providers. For more information, see Paying for Care.

High risk—Compared to the rest of the population, the patient has a greater chance of having or developing a medical problem because of a current medical condition.

Highest rate—When comparing Maryland hospitals, this is the highest number or rating on an individual quality indicator for the time period that is being analyzed.

Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO)—An independent, not-for-profit organization that evaluates and accredits health care organizations and programs in the United States including hospitals, nursing homes, and home health agencies.

Labor, delivery, recovery (LDR) room—Labor, Delivery, Recovery rooms (LDR's) are rooms in which the mother labors, delivers the baby, and recovers. Mothers are then transported to a separate postpartum room.

Labor, delivery, recovery, postpartum (LDRP) room—Labor, Delivery, Recovery, Postpartum rooms (LDRP's) are those rooms in which the mother labors, delivers the baby, and recovers, and she spends her postpartum period in the same room. She does not move to a separate postpartum area.

Lacerations—A wound with a jagged edge. For a new mother, a laceration means a tear in the vagina. Third- and fourth-degree lacerations are the most severe types of tears and can result in rectal, vaginal, and urinary problems.

Lactation consultant—A specialists who helps mothers with breast-feeding skills. Lactation consultants give information and guidance and help prepare pregnant mothers for breastfeeding. They also give support to mothers having problems after delivery and after leaving the hospital.

Length of Stay (LOS)—The number of days a patient spends in the hospital. LOS can indicate the efficiency of hospital care, and it can help indicate when a patient should leave the hospital. 

Level of care—The range of treatment or procedure a patient receives. This includes the medical level of expertise available.

Level I Nursery Services—Level I hospitals have all the capabilities for normal births and births with minor complications. This type of hospital is designed for newborns who have been carried to nearly full term and the delivery is expected to be uncomplicated.

Level II Nursery Services—Level II hospitals have additional equipment and staff to handle more complicated births. This level is for newborns with a slight potential for risk during the delivery. In general, Level II hospitals can provide care to newborns delivered at 32 weeks or at 3 pounds, 5 ounces or more. Level II hospitals also provide care for uncomplicated births.

Level III Nursery Services—Level III hospitals have equipment and staff to handle very complicated births. This type of hospital can care for babies who are premature (babies delivered before 32 weeks and at very low birth weights of less than 3 pounds 5 ounces) or who have serious illnesses or abnormalities requiring intensive care before, during, or after delivery. Level III hospitals also provide care for uncomplicated births.

Level III Plus Nursery Services—Level III Plus hospitals can provide care for very complicated births; they are located near a Level IV hospital to ensure rapid transfer of the newborn if additional care is needed. Level III Plus hospitals provide selected specialty services. Level III Plus hospitals also provide care for uncomplicated births.

Level IV Nursery Services—Level IV hospitals can care for the most complicated births. Level IV hospitals provide comprehensive critical care for the newborn and have a full range of specialty services. Level IV hospitals also provide care for uncomplicated births.

Level I Obstetrics Services—Level I hospitals have all the capabilities for normal births and births with minor complications. This type of hospital is for mothers who have carried their babies to nearly full term and expect an uncomplicated pregnancy and delivery.

Level II Obstetrics Services—Level II hospitals have additional equipment and staff to handle more complicated births. This type of hospital is for mothers with a slight potential for risk during delivery.

Level III Obstetrics Services—Level III hospitals have equipment and staff to handle very complicated births. Mothers and or newborns with serious illnesses or abnormalities requiring intensive care before, during, and/or after delivery may receive care at a Level III hospital. Level III hospitals also provide care for uncomplicated births.

Level III Plus Obstetrics Services—Level III Plus hospitals can provide care for very complicated births; they are located near a Level IV hospital to ensure rapid transfer of the newborn if additional care is needed. Level III Plus hospitals provide selected specialty services. Level III Plus hospitals also provide care for uncomplicated births.

Level IV Obstetrics Services—Level IV hospitals can care for the most complicated births. Level IV hospitals provide comprehensive critical care for the newborn and have a full range of specialty services. Level IV hospitals also provide care for uncomplicated births.

LVF—Left ventricular function is a measurement of how well the heart’s left ventricle can pump blood to the organs of the body.

LVSD—Left ventricular systolic dysfunction. The heart’s left ventricle does not effectively pump blood to the organs.

Medicaid—A joint federal and state program that pays for health care for certain persons with low income or some special health needs. Medicaid will usually pay for medications, lab tests, and nursing home services. In Maryland, most Medicaid patients are required to receive health care through the HealthChoice program. For more information, see Paying for Care.

Medicare—The federal government's health insurance program for persons who are 65 and older, who are permanently disabled, or who require kidney dialysis or transplantation. Most persons become eligible for Medicare when they turn 65. All Maryland hospitals provide care for persons enrolled in Medicare. For more information, see Paying for Care.

Midwife—Certified nurse midwives are licensed care providers educated in both nursing and delivering babies. Midwives provide care to mothers during pregnancy, labor and delivery, and after birth, and to newborns.

Neonatologist—A neonatologist treats disorders in newborns from birth and throughout the baby’s stay in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Neonatology is a pediatric specialty.

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)—A neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) is a hospital unit where highly-trained medical professionals specialize in the care of babies born prematurely and/or with other special problems. Doctors who care for newborns are specially-trained pediatricians called neonatologists. Nurses are specially trained to provide the intensive level of care for premature babies. Special beds are used to provide warmth and isolation, and to handle any devices that monitor the baby's heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, special blood, and feeding equipment. In Maryland, this term applies to hospitals designated as Level III or above (see the definition for Level III Nursery Services).

Obstetrician—A doctor who specializes in caring for pregnant women and delivering babies.

Obstetrics—Care provided in the delivery of babies. Doctors and nurses provide the care.

Outcome—The impact of care provided to a patient. Outcomes can be positive, such as a patient’s ability to walk freely as a result of rehabilitation, or negative, such as bedsores that might develop because of a patient’s lack of movement while staying in the hospital.

Outpatient birth—Childbirth that occurs outside the hospital, at the mother's home, or in a birthing center.

Perinatologist—An obstetric specialist who cares for mothers their and unborn babies who are at high risk for complications. The perinatologist provides care before, during, and after delivery.

Perineum—The area between the vagina and anus.

Pneumococcal vaccination—A shot to prevent pneumonia.

Pneumonia—A lung infection caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungus.

Postpartum—The time after childbirth.

Prenatal—The time before childbirth.

Primary Cesarean section—A woman's first Cesarean section birth.

Readmission—A patient has to go back into the hospital for the same disease or condition (or for an infection) within 15 days of being discharged from the hospital. This can indicate a problem with the patient’s medical treatment. A readmission is not counted in this guide’s reports if it occurs because a patient leaves the hospital before the doctor advises, or if the patient transfers to another hospital.

Repeat Cesarean section—A Cesarean section birth for a mother’s second or later pregnancy.

Risk Adjustment—This guide takes into account the fact that some hospitals take care of patients who are sicker or at greater risk of developing complications, than the "average" patient. Therefore, a “risk adjustment” method is used to make fair comparisons between hospitals. The actual numbers for length of stay and readmission are adjusted according to the severity of illness of each hospital’s patients. Each patient's other medical conditions, age, and other factors are considered in this calculation. For more information on risk adjustment, , select Technical Information on the sidebar and look in the “Risk Adjustment Methodology” section, or click here to select Technical Information.

Risk Factors—Factors related to age, other medical problems, and lifestyle choices that increase the likelihood of a person developing an illness.

Tubal ligation—A surgical procedure performed to prevent pregnancy. The woman’s fallopian tubes are closed to prevent a fertilized egg from reaching the uterus. Also referred to as tying tubes.

Umbilical cord—A structure for passing blood and nutrients between the mother and unborn baby. The umbilical cord is attached to the placenta, which is the organ that houses the unborn baby inside the mother’s uterus.

Umbilical cord blood—The blood that is in the umbilical cord.

Uterus—An organ in the female body where a baby grows. Also called the womb.

Vagina—The birth canal.

VBAC—Vaginal birth after cesarean section. A regular delivery after a woman has had a previous cesarean section birth.

Vaginal Birth after Cesarean Section—A regular delivery after a woman has had a previous cesarean section birth. Also called VBAC.

Ventricle—Ventricles are the lower chambers in the heart. The right ventricle pumps blood into the left side of the heart, and the left ventricle pumps blood to the body.

Volume—The number of patients a hospital treats with one medical condition. Measuring volume is useful because it gives an idea of the experience a hospital has in treating patients with a particular disease. Some studies have shown that treating more cases of a certain type can lead to better outcomes.