State-managed or privately-owned, a hospital is an establishment serving the sick and injured. Admission is allowed to people requiring emergency medical treatment, surgeries, special medication, and other types of medical care and attention. Hospitals have been around since Roman times, but their roles and responsibilities have transformed and evolved over the years.
Before medical treatment, several tests such as urine test, X-ray, CAT or CT scan, ultrasound, echocardiogram, etc. are carried out to determine a patient’s medical state. Not every patient undergoes all the tests. The actual number of tests and their relevancy are based on patient disease and requirements.
Besides offering medical cure, a hospital also accommodates patients after treatment until they fully recover or are reasonably fit to step out of expert care. The post-operative stay may be a few days, weeks, or even months based on the problem. Invariably, patients end up missing out on school or work during this stay. But there are some hospitals that offer classes for teens and kids, which make the transition to regular school much easier.
The rooms are similar to a bedroom – with regular furniture items such as a bed, chair, nightstand, and also a TV and phone, most times. A room may comprise multiple patients, or be privately available to individual patients. A private room will have space for a family member, friend, etc. to accompany and stay with the patient during the hospitalization.
A hospital can be categorized based on its scope, facilities, and approach. The following are the major types:
- General Hospital: An establishment offering complete surgical and medical care to the injured and sick.
- Public Hospital: A government-owned hospital that provides a range of medical services for free or a lesser fee, to ensure every citizen has access to quality medical care.
- Specialized Hospital: A hospital that excels at offering expert care for specific demographics or diseases. Examples include children’s hospitals, heart hospitals, hospitals for tuberculosis, mental hospitals, eye hospitals, etc.
- Community Hospital: A community hospital is like a general hospital, but offers services for a short-term. These hospitals are usually not adept at handling complex medical scenarios requiring prolonged and expert supervision.
- Teaching Hospital: A hospital that partners with nursing and medical schools to offer medical care and education on the same campus.
- Children’s Hospital: A hospital that’s as capable as a regular hospital, but offers medical treatment and care dedicated to children.
- Maternity Hospital: An institution offering dedicated maternity service – most general hospitals dedicate a separate block for maternity care.
- Mental Hospital: An establishment completely devoted to the treatment and care of medically ill or challenged patients.
Irrespective of whether a hospital is a specialist or general institution, it usually has in-patient wards, outpatient clinics, operation theaters and pharmacies.
A hospital is an amalgamation of medical staff and equipment. Generally, doctors and nurses are seen hurrying on hospital premises and meddling with complex medical tools and devices.
- Doctors: Doctors supervise medical care and work closely with other medical staff, such as nurses. The doctor could be a general physician or a specialist. The type of doctor attending to a patient will vary with the patient’s medical problems and the kind of care required.
- Nurses: Invariably, most patients and their family members first interact with a nurse in a hospital. Before helping a patient settle down, or taking the patient to his room, the nurse learns the patient’s medical history and current symptoms and signs. The nurse would take note of a patient’s vital signs, including blood pressure, temperature and heart rate.
The non-medical team, including cooks, engineers and cleaners, etc. also play a major role in making the system function. In most cases, a hospital premise also comprises medical students (undergoing training to become doctors), resident doctors (receiving specialty training), anesthesiologist, phlebotomists and IV team, and hospital volunteers.