Working in health care PR, I get to receive calls from the media from time to time asking about a patient's condition. Due to HIPAA rules, we, the hospital, cannot give out anything other than the following conditions:
Critical = you could go at any time.
Serious = you are very sick, but likely to make it
Satisfactory = you are out of the woods, but still in the hospital
Fair/Good = you are much better, probably fair or good.
So when the media covers stories such as the Fort Hood shooting, and says stuff like:
At a thoroughly surprising evening press conference, Lt. Gen. Robert Cone at Fort Hood told media gathered that the shooter in today's attack, Malik Nidal Hasan, is not dead but in stable condition at the hospital.
Stable is not a correct term.