Preferred Medical, Social and Program Terms

Instead ofUseNotes and Examples
2112-1-1 Texas or 2-1-1

Do not refer to this number as information and referral. When needed, include the appropriate option to select.

Example: Call 2-1-1 to report any changes to your case within 10 days. When you dial 2-1-1, pick a language and then press 2.

Example: Dial 2-1-1, Option 8 to find mental health services.

CPWCase Management for Children and Pregnant Women 
certifiedare approved, will get

Not correct: You are certified for Medicaid on Oct. 1, 2009.

Correct: You are approved for Medicaid starting Oct. 1, 2009.

check up OR check-upcheckupFederal directive (Frew lawsuit): Use checkup or the Spanish chequeo when referring to a Medicaid medical or dental service provided through Texas Health Steps.
Deafblind, DeafBlind, deaf-blinddeafblindUse when deafness and blindness occur together. Capitalized only when part of an official name or heading, per AP style.
EPSDT or Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and TreatmentTexas Health Steps 
healthcare, health-carehealth careAlways two words, per AP.
ID/DD for intellectual and developmental disabilityIDD 
State Supported Living Center, Area Agency on Aging, State Hospitalstate supported living center, area agency on aging, state hospital

Lowercase in general references. Only capitalize when referring to a specific location.

Example: Abilene State Supported Living Center.

state of Texas, the state

Texas Health and Human Services Commission or Texas Health and Human Services on first reference. HHSC or HHS on second reference.

HHS refers to HHSC and DSHS jointly. HHSC refers to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. DSHS refers to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

To avoid confusion with the federal Health and Human Services agency, do not use HHS by itself without first spelling out Texas Health and Human Services.
substance abuse, alcohol abuse, substance dependence, addiction, addicts, drug use

*substance use, substance misuse, substance use disorder, alcohol use disorder, opioid

substance use, use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs

use disorder, person with a substance use disorder

Substance use is taking any substance, whether legally or illegally. Misuse describes potentially harmful use that alone may not constitute a diagnosable substance use disorder. A substance use disorder is a diagnosis by a professional that describes a recurrent pattern of using a substance that impairs daily life activities or causes noticeable distress, per Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Generally, people do not associate alcohol and tobacco with drug use.

Mention the specific substance when possible (alcohol use, opioid use disorder). If necessary, the disorder can be described as mild, moderate or severe depending on the effect the use has on the person’s life. There is no need to mention whether the substance is legal or illegal.

sun down, sun downing, sun-downing, sun-downing behaviorsundowningA symptom of dementia defined by confusion and agitation in the late afternoon and evening. One word in all cases, no hyphen. Use as a noun, not a verb. Show signs of sundowning not he is sundowning or she sundowned.
TDDTTYTTY is the preferred technology.
THStepsTexas Health StepsTexas Health Steps is the court-approved name for these Medicaid services for children.

*Use of term substance use:

  • Using prescription medication as directed by a medical professional
  • A person 21 or older drinking alcohol responsibly or a person 18 or older using tobacco products

*Use of term substance misuse:

  • Taking prescription medication in a manner other than prescribed by a medical professional (taking too many, too frequently, sharing medication with another person)
  • Binge drinking, drinking and driving, dinking in excess of the legal limit
  • Drinking alcohol before the legal age of 21 or using tobacco products before the legal age of 18