MVP   Healthgrades Glossary

Please select a letter to view glossary terms that begin with that letter.

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A denturist is a dental practitioner who specializes in making, fitting, and repairing complete and partial dentures. A denturist evaluates patients' oral health, takes impressions of teeth, gums and jaw, and constructs, and fits these removable oral prosthesis or dentures. Denturists may also provide sports mouthguards, night guards or anti-bruxism devices, and teeth-whitening services.

Denturists is a recognized American Dental Association specialty of dentistry. Denturists complete a degree in Denturism or Denturology with two to three years of additional formal training in an accredited residency training program at a registered denture clinic.

Dermatology is the study of disorders of the skin. A dermatologist is a physician who diagnoses and treats diseases of the skin. This specialist also diagnoses and treats problems of the skin, mouth, external genitalia, and some sexually transmitted diseases. A dermatologist is knowledgeable regarding skin cancers, moles, tumors of the skin, allergic reactions to chemicals or other substances, and changes of the skin associated with aging.

Dermatologists also treat cosmetic disorders of the skin such as hair loss and scars, internal disorders and diseases that affect the skin, and are qualified to perform standard surgical techniques used in the field of dermatology.

Dermatopathology is the study of diseases and disorders of the skin by laboratory examination of cells. A dermatopathologist diagnoses diseases of the skin by laboratory study of skin tissues under a microscope. This specialist may consult with a primary physician regarding the monitoring and treatment of skin disorders. Whether the source of the skin disorder is an infection, a reaction of the immune system, a cancerous lesion, or a degenerative disease, the dermatopathologist can examine and interpret the results of microscopic tests and offer recommendations for treatment.

Diabetes Care Link:
The Bridges to Excellence® (BTE) Diabetes Care Link program seeks to improve the quality of care for diabetics by recognizing and rewarding physicians for demonstrating the delivery of high quality diabetes care. For Diabetes Care Link Recognition, physicians must meet standards associated with processes and outcomes in caring for patients with diabetes. The performance measure areas, developed by American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the performance assessment organizations, include:

  • HbA1c control
  • Blood pressure control
  • Cholesterol control
  • Eye exam
  • Smoking status and cessation advice or treatment
  • Nephropathy assessment
  • Foot exam
BTE recognized physicians in this program receive one of three designations:
  • Level 1 Recognition means that the physician performance ranks "above average" based upon a total score of the diabetes performance measures listed above.
  • Level 2 Recognition means that a physician meets all of the Level 1 Recognition requirements and meets high standards on specific key measures, which include blood pressure control, cholesterol control, and HbA1c control. These key measures are critically important to the very good treatment and management of patients with diabetes.
  • Level 3 Recognition means that a physician meets the highest standards of diabetes care and is using advanced processes to deliver all the right care to their patients. Level 3 recognized physicians are considered "best in class" in providing excellent care to their patients with diabetes.
For Diabetes Care Link, a physician may or may not have received recognition as part of a practice or group. For more information on BTE's Diabetes Care Link program, go to

Diabetes, Metabolism and Endocrinology:
Diabetes, metabolism and endocrine disorders involve several different body systems, including the thyroid, the metabolism, and the reproductive system. An endocrinologist is a physician who deals with endocrine system disorders, involving glands such as the thyroid and adrenal glands. This specialist also helps patients deal with disorders such as diabetes, nutritional disorders, and problems with reproductive health.

Diagnostic Laboratory and Dermatological Immunology:
Dermatological immunology is the laboratory study of the immune system of the skin. A dermatologist is a specialized physician who diagnoses and treats diseases of the skin. A dermatological immunologist deals with disorders of the skin caused by allergic reactions and other immune system disorders. Also called an immunodermatologist, this specialist uses diagnostic laboratory procedures to determine disorders such as dermatitis, skin allergies, and skin inflammation caused by drug reactions.

The dermatological immunologist may act as a consultant with a primary physician to diagnose and manage skin disorders, and recommend and administer treatment to counteract a defective response of the immune system.

Diagnostic Radiology:
Diagnostic radiology involves one or more medical imaging technologies to diagnose and sometimes treat disease. A diagnostic radiologist is a physician who works with X-rays, ultrasound, MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), CT scans (Computed Tomography), and other imaging technology to diagnose and sometimes treat diseases or disorders, such as breast cancer, tumors, lung disorders or heart disease.

Disciplinary Actions:
Disciplinary actions are actions taken to punish or restrict physicians who have demonstrated professional misconduct. Governmental disciplinary actions are also referred to as sanctions. They are intended to correct the doctor's misconduct.

HealthGrades reports state and federal disciplinary actions (if any) from the previous 5 years except in cases where the action taken was a revocation or surrender of the physician's license.

When patients receive poor or questionable care from a physician, they may file a formal complaint with the state medical board or professional licensing organization. Medical colleagues may also report behavior that concerns them. After investigation, the board may take appropriate disciplinary action. Causes vary greatly:

  • Defaulting on a student loan
  • Failure to complete continuing education requirements
  • Substance abuse
  • Over-prescribing drugs
  • Self-prescribing drugs
  • Physical or mental impairment
  • Sexual abuse of a patient

After investigation, the board may take appropriate disciplinary action:

  • Public reprimand or letter of admonition - For minor violations.
  • Monetary fines - Often in conjunction with other actions.
  • Negotiated agreement - Similar to a plea bargain.
  • Probation - The physician continues to practice under conditions and restrictions.
  • Suspension - The physician is temporarily prohibited from practicing medicine.
  • Revocation - The physician loses his or her medical license.
Keeping up with disciplinary action information on doctors is extremely difficult. States release information on their disciplinary actions on various schedules. States also vary greatly in their level of detail, terminology, and notification methods.

Additionally, physicians who have had a disciplinary action in one state will often move to another state where he/she may have a clean record in that new state. Since HealthGrades painstakingly compiles disciplinary action information from all 50 states, you'll know if a physician has a disciplinary action in more than one state.

The distance a radius out from the location you entered.
What this means to you:
If you have a medical issue that may require frequent trips to the hospital or physician office for tests and treatments, distance may be important. When you're ill, you may not want the added stress of a long commute, or you may want to be near family or friends who can visit you.

Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.):

A doctor of osteopathic medicine (D.O.) is a fully qualified physician licensed to perform surgery and prescribe medication. Similar to an M.D., an osteopathic physician completes four years of medical school and can further train to practice in any specialty of medicine (such as, pediatrics, family practice, surgery, and obstetrics). In addition, osteopathic physicians receive 300 to 500 hours of study of hands-on manual medicine and the body's musculoskeletal system.

Osteopathic medicine is dedicated to treating and healing the"whole person" rather than treating specific symptoms or illnesses of one system or body part. An osteopathic physician uses a treatment method called osteopathic manipulation—a hands-on approach to diagnosing illness and injury to encouraging the body's natural tendency toward good health. The free motion from manipulations ensures that all of your body's natural healing systems are free to work unhindered.

Like M.D.s, osteopathic physicians are licensed by state. Osteopathic physicians may also become "board certified") by completing a two- to six -year residency within the specialty area and passing the board certification exams.

The difference between conventional medicine and osteopathic medicine has lessened as D.O.s incorporate conventional diagnostic and treatment techniques and as M.D.s are recognize and incorporate in their practice osteopathic premises of treating the whole person.