Certified Nursing Assistants, or CNAs, are medical professionals who help patients with routine healthcare needs under either RN or LPN nursing supervision. The role of a CNA involves many routine responsibilities, and employment environments range from hospitals to personal patient-care settings. Since CNAs work in these environments and directly with other nursing and physician professionals, there are five important terms that all CNAs must know.
Kardex: Important medical record information is summarized onto a card referred to as the Kardex. A Kardex is used by CNAs to help summarize a patient’s care. They can be either tangible or electronic and include information like patient biographical information, disabilities, diagnosis, medications, mobility status, and important allergies. Thinking of a Kardex as a patient cheat sheet is a memorable reference.
H & P (History and Physical): The term H & P refers to an initial assessment made by a nurse or physician that involves lining out a patient’s medical history and present illness. CNAs must be able to review H & P competently to understand their patient’s complaint, be knowledgeable about past surgeries, medical history, and family history, in order to provide sufficient and appropriate care.
I & O (Intake and Output): Measuring a patient’s intake and output is one of the most important jobs of a CNA. Keeping patients well hydrated is important because it correlates to improving health and ultimate survival. Since patients lose water through sweat, respiration, and going to the bathroom, CNAs must be able to calculate I & O in order to make certain patients do not become dehydrated. Dehydration leads to headache, confusion, and dizziness.
NCS (No Concentrated Sweets): Dietary terms such as NCS must be known by CNAs who routinely order and serve foods to patients they care for. NCS excludes all carbohydrates and refined sugars for patients with diabetic conditions or obesity.
Occult: In medicine, CNAs need to understand this term. “Occult” essentially means "hidden," so an example of an occult condition would be one that is unable to be seen by the naked eye, but can be detected through chemical testing. Trace amounts of substances such as blood can be occult and indicate a severe condition such as internal bleeding. CNAs must be prepared to interpret such terms in order to get patients help, provide care, and report to supervising medical staff on patient condition respective to illness.