Among the many functions of hospitals are the provision of medical and surgical care to patients, as well as medical education and research. In addition, hospitals provide an important setting for health professionals to train in their fields. They are also essential to a well-functioning referral network.
Hospitals are usually subsidized by nonprofit health agencies, government funds, or private health insurance companies. Hospitals also receive out-of-pocket payments from uninsured patients. Some hospitals have outpatient departments, where patients receive treatment for conditions that are not medical in nature.
Hospitals also include medical laboratories, radiology, medical equipment, and a hospital pharmacy. They may also have special departments, such as an operating theatre or chronic care unit. Some hospitals also offer rehabilitation services. In addition, some hospitals have an intensive care unit. Several hospitals are also considered nursing homes. In some states, nursing homes must receive hospital licenses to operate.
Hospitals may be classified according to the type of service provided and the length of time patients stay in the hospital. They may also be classified by the type of administration provided, the size of the organization, or the type of ownership. They may be classified as community, general, or specialized hospitals. In addition, some hospitals may provide other services, such as nursing home-type units or psychiatric care.
Hospitals are staffed by professional medical staff. They may also have a department of nursing or a department of pathology. In addition, they may have specialty units, such as cardiology or orthopedics. Some hospitals may also have an emergency department. During armed conflict, hospitals are usually marked with a red crescent or a red cross. These symbols are in accordance with the Geneva Conventions.
In the Middle Ages, hospitals were often staffed by religious orders, such as the Knights Hospitallers of the Order of St. John. In England, the dissolution of monasteries in 1540 led to a gradual transfer of responsibility for institutional health care from the church to secular authorities. During the Crusades, the number of hospitals increased rapidly.
Historically, hospitals were almshouses for the poor and the sick. In the Middle Ages, they were also used as a school for medical students and as a place for pilgrims. Some hospitals, especially in Arab countries, also accepted patients regardless of religion, race, or social order.
In modern times, hospitals may also have an outpatient department, such as an emergency room or a surgical department. They may also have a radiology department, a pharmacy department, and a pathology department. A hospital can also be classified according to the type of services it provides, such as acute care, rehabilitation, or medical education.
Hospitals may be classified as community, general, or special hospitals, depending on their size, ownership, and type of service they provide. They may be specialized in one or more of the following fields: obstetrics and gynecology, orthopedics, trauma centers, and seniors’ hospitals. They may also provide services for special populations, such as children, the elderly, or people with intellectual disabilities.