What is a Hospital?


A hospital is a health care facility which provides medical, surgical, and psychiatric services for patients who are sick or injured. Hospitals are often equipped with medical and surgical departments, operating rooms, emergency and psychiatric care units, and laboratory services. In many countries, hospitals provide emergency care to all patients, regardless of ability to pay. Hospitals are also involved in public health programs, research, and education.

A person is usually hospitalized when their doctor considers it necessary for their well-being, such as with a serious disease that requires overnight stay in the hospital to be monitored and treated. In some cases, doctors will advise hospitalization for shorter stays to help prevent complications or to improve a patient’s quality of life. Hospitals can be divided into wards that have beds for inpatients, and specialty departments, such as maternity; eye, ear, nose, and throat; and pediatrics.

Visiting hours at the hospital depend on what department a patient is being treated in, and whether the hospital has any restrictions for visitors due to infection control practices or radiation hazards. Generally, hospitals will allow anyone the patient wants to visit, although some treatment areas like operation suites may be off-limits for safety reasons.

In addition to hospitalization, some facilities are called clinics or medical centres, but these are usually not true hospitals. Those that only provide diagnostic and outpatient treatment services are called non-hospital medical facilities or clinics, and do not have wards or inpatient facilities.

The modern hospital is a complex organisation, involving a great deal of administration and management. In general, a hospital is overseen by a hospital board, composed of representatives from the community and from business and professional groups. The board sets policies and standards for the hospital, approves expenditures, and oversees operations and staff. Hospitals are also regulated by government agencies and, in some countries, private health insurance companies.

Many hospitals have a chief nursing officer or director of nursing, who is responsible for administration and professional practice in the hospital. The hospital’s nurses are trained in the latest techniques and procedures, and are the backbone of the healthcare system.

The modern hospital has become a huge enterprise, requiring a high level of financial resources to operate and maintain. As a result, some of the hospitals are now being redesigned to make better use of space and equipment, and also to provide more comfortable accommodations for patients. These changes are being driven by the need to reduce costs and the increased emphasis on improving patient outcomes, including prevention of diseases and disabilities. In addition, new technology such as computerized systems is changing the way in which hospital patients are monitored and cared for. Increasingly, patients are being discharged earlier from the hospital, with instructions to follow-up with their primary care doctor or specialists. This trend has increased pressure on hospitals to prove their value as healthcare providers. It has also led to a growth in the number of medical malpractice lawsuits.

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