Healthcare and Medicine Reference
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3. Whenever more than one definition is quoted, it is because of the defi-
nitions' complementarity and convergence rather than because of their
differences and ensuing controversy.
The following list of definitions, established with beginners in mind, is
therefore proposed. This list can never be complete. For additional defini-
tions within the topic and its chapters, the reader is encouraged to consult
the index.
Abduction: A form of reasoning in which one reasons from observed
phenomena to a hypothesis (proposition) that would explain them.
Abductive reasoning usually shows only that the hypothesis (proposi-
tion) is a possible explanation; further observation, experiment, and/
or reasoning are required to determine whether the hypothesis (prop-
osition) is justified. Together with induction and deduction, abduction
is considered one of three basic forms of inference.
Accident (in medicine): An unexpected, specific, identifiable, unusual, and
unintended (unplanned) event that occurs at a particular time and
place of medical care, originally without an apparent or deliberate
cause but with marked effects.
Active error (human, medical): An error or failure resulting from human
behavior, made by a health professional (operating surgeon, prescrib-
ing internist, consulting psychiatrist, nurse at floors or in the operat-
ing room, etc.) who, in a health establishment, provides direct clinical
or community care, acts, or services; it may be knowledge based,
rule based, or skill based.
Additive effect: An arithmetic sum of the effects of a set of factors (such as
drugs or pollutants).
Adduct: A common term for rebuttals and all major supporting and/or
weakening elements related to conclusions (claims) of an argument.
Adduction (to adduce): In the context of this topic and philosophy, the
process of offering an example, reason, or proof in discussion or
Advocacy: A tool using language strategies to justify beliefs and actions to
Algorithm in medicine: A graphical representation (flowchart) of a set of
rules to solve a clinical problem by setting down individual steps in
a sequence of actions and their results; each action step depends on
the result of the preceding one. Therefore, as opposed to a decision
tree, an algorithm is an unequivocal direction-giving tool.
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