Throughout history, hospitals have served as places of hospitality for the sick and injured. The word “hospital” comes from the Latin word hospes, meaning a “host” or a “guest-chamber.” Hospitals have been in operation since the Middle Ages. A hospital is a complex facility that is staffed by health science professionals who provide patients with medical care. A hospital can be a private, not-for-profit, or government-owned facility. Hospitals are classified based on the types of services offered, the level of care provided, the number of medical specialties, the size of the facility, and the level of administrative services provided.
A hospital may be a large, general facility that provides care for a wide range of diseases, or a smaller facility that is focused on a specific medical specialty. Some hospitals provide rehabilitation services for people with disabilities or mental illness. A modern hospital can also serve as a teaching facility, teaching future health care professionals. Hospitals may be staffed by volunteers or paid medical professionals. A hospital may have an emergency department, an intensive care unit, or an operating theater. In some hospitals, medical laboratories are located inside of the hospital.
Depending on the size and location of a hospital, the staff that runs it may include doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals. Hospitals may also have specialist units that provide care for specific conditions such as eye, ear, nose, and throat, cardiology, cancer treatment, rehabilitation, orthopedics, and obstetrics and gynecology. In addition, hospitals may have outpatient departments and radiology. A hospital may also have its own ambulance service, which provides emergency medical transportation.
A hospital may also be classified according to the number of patients it admits. Short-stay hospitals are hospitals that admit patients for short stays. A short-stay hospital may be a children’s hospital, an osteopathic hospital, or a maternity hospital. In the United States, a short-stay hospital is defined by the National Health Interview Survey as a hospital that admits the majority of patients to units that have an average length of stay less than 30 days.
A hospital can be classified as a general hospital, a specialty hospital, or a community hospital. A general hospital normally has an emergency department, a trauma center, and a medical department. A specialty hospital provides medical care for a specific disease category, such as obstetrics and gynecology. Some hospitals are also classified as mental health hospitals, which deal with severe mental illnesses. A community hospital can be a special hospital that is primarily concerned with caring for the community.
Hospitals are usually staffed by a medical director, a nursing manager, and other health science professionals. These individuals oversee the professional nursing practice, medical care, and policy of the hospital. The hospital may also have a department of research, a department of nursing, or an intensive care unit. These units may also have support departments, such as a medical records department, a clinical engineering department, or a release of information department.