Inpatient care refers to a medical service/procedure requiring hospitalization. Doctors recommend hospitalization because the care and treatment the patient needs cannot be provided outside a proper medical environment. The inpatient care duration depends on the patient’s medical condition and subsequent progress. Compared to outpatient care, inpatient care services are more expensive because the medical bill includes costs relating to medication and the physician/surgeon, along with the hospital facility fee.  

Generally, inpatient care deals with serious or more complicated medical conditions or injuries that cannot be treated within a few hours or a day. Just staying overnight in a hospital without ongoing care or treatment doesn’t qualify as inpatient care. The doctor must have formally ordered (in writing) the patient’s admission into the hospital. The physician determines this after assessing the level of medical treatment and care the patient requires. Patients usually have no say in the decision, but there are instances when a patient can choose between inpatient and outpatient care.


Inpatient care services usually entail more invasive or serious surgeries, mental health care, dialysis, rehabilitation, etc. Individuals offered inpatient care services have access to intensive care units (surgical, medical, cardiac, mental health), spinal cord injury centers, transplant care centers, poly trauma centers, traumatic brain injury centers, etc. Besides offering necessary treatment, inpatient services also provide patients and their immediate family members or friends necessary emotional support.


An individual under inpatient care would be allotted a dedicated room, which will generally have the following:

  • Comfortable hospital bed
  • Sleeper sofa for family or visitors to stay overnight
  • Dining table, recliner and guest seating
  • Personal bathroom specially designed for patients
  • Television and landline phone
  • Access to private patio and family lounge

These features are not standard across the board and some hospitals may or may not offer them. Some hospitals could also offer inpatients additional facilities such as board games, table tennis area, library, sports equipment, etc. to help the patient stay more engaged.