What Is a General Hospital?

The term “general hospital” is used to refer to a large medical facility with a broad range of services. General hospitals provide outpatient, inpatient and emergency care, and also offer community health education programs. They often serve as training sites for physicians, nurses, medical students and other healthcare professionals. They may be owned by the government, universities or private corporations. Some are academic hospitals that train a large number of medical students and residents, while others are community-based. They may be a part of a larger network, including specialized institutes or hospitals that focus on specific diseases.

The majority of patients in a general hospital are admitted for acute illnesses, usually those that require short-term care. A general hospital may be a public or private institution, and some are run by religious organizations. The legal governing body of a general hospital is called a board, which establishes policy and, on the advice of a medical advisory board, appoints a chief executive officer and an administrator. The board is responsible for the conduct of the hospital and has full control over expenditures.

A general hospital may be located in a city, town or rural area, and is typically served by one or more local community hospitals in the surrounding area. The main advantage of a general hospital is that it can handle both acute and chronic illness cases. Typically, these facilities have more staff members than a smaller specialty hospital. In addition, a general hospital is more likely to have a wide range of ancillary services, such as laboratory and imaging equipment, inpatient rehabilitation units, and an operating room that can accommodate most surgical procedures.

While some specialized hospitals focus on treating certain disorders, a general hospital can treat all types of illness and injuries, including heart disease, cancer, mental disorders and infectious diseases. In the past, general hospitals were more often located in urban areas because they could better access resources and patients. However, today there are more suburban and rural hospitals than ever before.

Many of today’s general hospitals are multispecialty, and their staffs include doctors from various specialties, nurses, aides, technicians and other support personnel. These hospitals are more efficient than larger, specialty hospitals and often have a lower cost structure. However, they are less able to cope with sudden crises or emergencies.

In the past, psychiatric services at a general hospital were frequently viewed as a useful outlet for troubled patients. However, this is not always the case, and psychiatric services are competing with other specialties for funding. The result is that many general hospitals do not have sufficient psychiatric beds to meet demand.

The first episode of the daytime drama General Hospital aired on April 1, 1963. Created by husband and wife soap writers Frank and Doris Hursley, the show is ABC’s oldest surviving daily soap opera and was once its highest-rated program. The soap has won 26 Daytime Emmy awards, more than any other television series.