What is a Hospital?


A hospital is a health care facility that concentrates medical and nursing staff to diagnose, treat and heal patients with acute or chronic diseases. They usually have a large assortment of specialized technologies, devices and equipment to deal with all kinds of health conditions.

A patient goes to a hospital either for diagnosis and treatment or just to have tests done, and some people go just to have tests done and then leave (“outpatients”), while others stay overnight or for several days or weeks or months (“inpatients”). A psychiatric hospital is specifically devoted to treating mental disorders.

Hospitals are usually built with special designs and features that distinguish them from other buildings, such as reinforced floors to support heavy machinery, thick walls for radiation safety, research laboratories, and operating rooms. Most hospitals have an emergency department (sometimes called an accident and emergency department), where injured people are treated first, often in a triage system in which the most severely wounded are given priority over those with less serious injuries or illnesses.

In general, a person is admitted to a hospital for a night or more on the recommendation of a doctor who has admitting privileges at that particular institution, which then does the necessary paperwork and checks whether the person has insurance coverage. Hospitals have a variety of departments such as medical records, housekeeping, maintenance and food services. They also have a range of specialist clinics for things such as skin diseases or nerve disorders.

The vast majority of hospital beds are single-sex, and many hospitals have facilities for Maori patients, who are typically greeted by a kaumatua or kuia when they arrive. Visiting hours are generally quite flexible, although some areas, such as operation suites or the emergency department, may restrict visitors for safety reasons.

In a psychiatric hospital, the patient will usually be assigned to an open or low secure unit (sometimes called a crisis stabilization unit). Open units are less restrictive than locked psychiatric institutions, such as those in high security hospitals, and the aim is to provide supervised rehabilitation while maintaining a level of privacy and normalcy for the person. This differs from the kind of treatment that was offered in institutions such as Bloomingdale Insane Asylum, which led Erving Goffman to describe them as “total institutions” because they completely occupied and controlled a person’s life.

Depending on the nature of the illness, hospitalization can be very stressful for some patients. They are often away from home, they must comply with a number of rules and restrictions while they are in the hospital, they might not be well enough to be at work or school, and they may have limited access to friends and family. All of these factors can cause stress, and some patients may feel that their health is actually worsened by their stay in the hospital. Consequently, some people choose not to be admitted to the hospital even when they are ill.

Previous post Pros and Cons of Clinics
Next post What Is Medical Treatment?