Difference between outpatient and inpatient medical services

Difference between outpatient and inpatient medical services

Will your hospital procedure require you to stay overnight?

In a hospital, the terms inpatient and outpatient are often used when referring to the type of procedure or services a patient receives. It is essential for you to know the difference between the two types of care to understand what to expect during and after the medical service.

Below is a breakdown of outpatient versus inpatient care for you to gain the edge on what to expect if you are told you need an outpatient or inpatient procedure by your doctor.

The Difference in Outpatient vs. Inpatient Medical Care

In the simplest terms, to differentiate between the two types of procedures and care, an inpatient will be admitted to the hospital after an operation, and outpatient care does not require hospitalization.

As an inpatient, you would spend at least one day in the hospital after a procedure to allow professional medical observation and round-the-clock monitoring. Typically, a patient receives medication and treatment while under inpatient care.

Outpatient services consist of a wide variety of types of procedures, varying in level of severity. Typically, they can be performed anywhere – a walk-in clinic, outpatient surgery center, doctor’s office, hospital, etc. The medical procedure is deemed an outpatient service if it does not require a hospital stay.

There is a gray area around what is classified as outpatient versus inpatient care in the medical world. A physician may label a patient as observation status. Placing a patient under observation status allows a doctor to evaluate and decide if the patient needs further treatment or is good to leave after service. This frequently occurs during the discharge of an inpatient.

The type of care you need determines whether the service will be inpatient or outpatient.

Examples of Outpatient Services

Most people go to a scheduled outpatient medical service at least once a year. Here are some of the most common forms of outpatient procedures:

  • Bloodwork and Lab testing
  • MRIs, X-Rays, CT scans
  • Colonoscopy
  • Oral Surgery
  • Mammograms
  • Chemotherapy and Radiation Treatment
  • Consultations with a specialty physician
  • Emergency room visits without hospitalization

Examples of Inpatient Service

An inpatient medical service usually tends to be something more severe or even life-threatening, requiring a patient to be admitted to a hospital, which may be scheduled or not. Here are some of the most common forms of inpatient procedures:

  • Serious illnesses like COVID-19 or Heart Attack
  • Traumatic Injury
  • Severe Burns
  • Serious mental health issues or treatment
  • Complex surgeries like cosmetic surgeries
  • Childbirth

NW Indiana ER & Hospital strives for convenient, personalized, and expert-level care of all patients, whether they receive same-day services or have an overnight stay. Our patients are the number one priority, with a facility designed to provide any medical service needed as easily as possible for you and your loved ones. Discover 24/7 access to our outpatient imaging and laboratory and deluxe extended stay services. Contact us today for any questions regarding outpatient and inpatient services.

Disclaimer: As a service to our readers, NW Indiana ER & Hospital and Nutex Health state no content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinicians.