Term Explanation


Loss or lack of bodily strength; weakness; debility.


Inability to remain motionless.


Pain due to a stimulus that does not normally provoke pain

(eg. touch, light pressure, moderate cold or warmth).


A deficiency in the oxygen carrying component of blood, the red blood cells.


Relieving pain. Can relate to a medication, or to patient behaviour which is protective or avoiding.


Slow mental processes.

Breakthrough Pain

Pain that occurs between regular doses of an analgesic, and requires an additional dose of analgesic (Therapeutic Guidelines).

Care Plan

An individualized plan drawn up, usually according to a set template, that sets out, in varying levels of detail, how a patient’s care is to be conducted (MA).

Central Pain

Pain associated with a lesion of the central nervous system.

Central Sensitisation

The phenomenon that is clinically manifested by hyperalgesia and allodynia beyond the area of pain.

Clinical Care

Relating to the treatment of patients.

Clinical Observation

A clinical observation is based on the observed condition of patients and their symptoms, as distinguished from blood tests or other laboratory findings.

Refers to physical signs and symptoms directly observable in the human body.


A trained health professional who provides some kind of clinical service, e.g. doctor, nurse, physiotherapist, psychologist, chiropodist, dentist.


Continuous Subcutaneous Infusion.


An unpleasant abnormal sensation, whether spontaneous or evoked (e.g. formication - a feeling of ants crawling on the skin.


(Extra Pyradimal Side Effects)

Physical symptoms, including tremor, slurred speech, akathisia, dystonia, bradyphrenia (restlessness, twitching and jerking, and slow mental processes) anxiety, distress, and paranoia.

Goal of care

A clinical term that categorises the aims of medical treatment in terms of what a realistic outcome might be for a particular patient at this stage of their illness trajectory, namely curative, palliative or terminal.

Health Care Team

All the health professionals involved in the patient’s care.

This may include some or all of the following:

General Practitioner, Medical Specialists such as Surgeons, Oncologists, Gastroenterologists, Community Nurse, Palliative Care Nurse consultant, Palliative Care Medical Specialist, Occupational Therapist, Social Worker, Physiotherapist, Hospital Staff, Hospice Staff.


Increased sensitivity to stimulation, excluding the special senses.


An increased response to a stimulus which is normally painful.


When two or more disciplines pool their approaches and modify them so that they are better suited to the problem at hand.


Making use of several disciplines at once.


Pain in the distribution of a nerve or nerves.


Inflammation of a nerve or nerves.

Neuroleptic A term coined to refer to the effects on cognition and behaviour of antipsychotic drugs, which produce a state of apathy, lack of initiative and limited range of emotion and in psychotic patients cause a reduction in confusion and agitation and normalisation of psychomotor activity.
Neuropathy A disturbance of function or pathological change in a nerve.

An unpleasant subjective sensation as a result of stimulation of the gastric lining, the chemoreceptor trigger zone in the base of the fourth ventricle, the vestibular apparatus, or the cerebral cortex. (Fraser health)

The feeling as if one is going to vomit.
Opioid Any of various sedative narcotics containing opium or one or more of its natural or synthetic derivatives.
Pain An unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage.


(Percutaneous Endoscopic


The placing of a feeding tube directly into the stomach through the skin of the abdomen.
Person Responsible

A person responsible makes decisions for children and adults who have a disability and who are incapable of consenting to treatment.

The person responsible is not necessarily the patient's next of kin. It is a statutory concept defined in Section 4 of the Guardianship and Administration Act.

If the patient is a child, the person responsible is the child's spouse or in all other cases the child's parent.

If the patient is an adult, the person responsible in priority order is either:

  • a guardian (including an enduring guardian) who has the power to consent to health care, which includes the power to refuse or withdraw consent to treatment
  • a spouse - including a de-facto spouse
  • an unpaid carer who is now providing domestic services or support to the patient, or who provided these services and support before the patient entered a residential facility
  • a relative or friend who has both a close personal relationship and a personal interest in the patient's welfare.

It is the responsibility of the medical practitioner recommending treatment to determine whether a person qualifies as the patient's person responsible. If the medical practitioner cannot decide between competing persons, the matter should be referred to the Board.

There can only be one person responsible for the patient.
Refractory Resisting ordinary methods of treatment.

Respite is a period of rest and recovery.

In palliative care respite can be provided for carers for regular short periods, such as having a volunteer stay with the patient an afternoon a week so that the carer can leave the house, or providing a period of inpatient care so that the carer can rest and revitalize.

Responsible Person See Person Responsible
Retching Rhythmic spasmodic contractions of the diaphragm and abdominal muscles.
Specialist Palliative Care Service (SPCS) A service with specialist skills, knowledge and experience, dedicated to the practice of palliative care
Therapeutic Ratio The balance of the benefits and adverse effects of a treatment. To be offered a treatment’s ratio must be favourable, ie, the benefits that can reasonably be expected must outweigh the harms
Treatment Abatement

A term that encompasses stopping a treatment, and not starting it in the first place (after Weir RF, OUP 1989). It applies to:

  • Life support: ventilation, nutrition and hydration
  • Medical treatment generally
Volar Relating to the palm of the hand or the sole of the foot
Vomiting The expulsion of the gastric contents through the mouth caused by forceful contraction of the abdominal muscles and diaphragm.