Outpatient services are
medical procedures or tests that can be done in a medical center without an
overnight stay. Many procedures and tests can be done in a few hours.
Outpatient services include:
Outpatient services usually cost less, because you don't need to stay
overnight. Staff members at outpatient centers are well trained in the service
they provide. Most of the time, these centers specialize in one kind of
treatment or procedure. Often all the care you need can be provided in one
Most people can choose an
outpatient center instead of a hospital if the needed service is available. But
not all medical procedures can or should be done at an outpatient
Your doctor may
recommend a center. You can also ask family or friends who have used outpatient
services to tell you about their experiences.
To find the right
center to provide the service you need, you'll need to ask some questions, such
Try to find out all you can about the outpatient
center before you use it. It’s a good idea to visit the center before you
Many health and government agencies rate or report on the
quality of outpatient centers. Check with your state’s board of medicine or
with your insurance company to learn more.
You can also use the
Quality Check website from the Joint Commission. For more information, go to
Frequently Asked Questions
Learning about outpatient services:
Using outpatient services:
Finding an outpatient service center:
More and more medical
procedures are being offered in qualified
outpatient service centers.
services are offered in many settings. For instance, medical schools often
provide various types of outpatient services, such as pain clinics or
rehabilitation centers. Other types of outpatient facilities include:
Many outpatient service centers specialize in a specific
area of medicine, such as orthopedics (bones) or cardiology (heart). These
centers, like many hospitals, have advanced equipment and highly trained
There are many benefits
outpatient services, depending on the type of medical
procedure you need and on what you prefer.
When choosing an outpatient facility, consider:
outpatient service centers are accredited and approved
for the types of treatment offered. But not all centers provide care that is right
for you. Be sure to find out whether the provider you're considering
is reputable and qualified. The following government and health agencies can
help you learn about the quality of outpatient service centers:
It is important to check
with your HMO, PPO, or health insurance provider to determine what outpatient services are covered. Your particular
health plan coverage may limit your choice of services.
a quality outpatient center before you have a medical procedure is the best way
to make sure that you'll receive excellent care. Friends and family who have
used outpatient services may tell you about their personal experiences. Often
your doctor will know about the quality of outpatient services in your area.
You may want to start your search by talking with your doctor about your options.
Next, find out which outpatient services are covered by your insurance company.
The following questions may help you find the outpatient service center that
best fits your needs:
You may have more questions based on your own health
issues and the type of procedure or test you need. Ask questions, listen
to the recommendation of your doctor and those you trust, and visit the
facility to get the information you need to make the best decision for
your health care.
This Joint Commission website has information about choosing a health care provider, patient safety, Quality Check (a way to check the performance of health care centers), and more.
The Joint Commission compiles reports and national information on various health care services, including outpatient service centers. If you want to check on the performance of an outpatient service center, use the Quality Check feature on this Web site.
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) is
one agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. AHRQ
supports research initiatives that seek to improve the quality of health care
in America. AHRQ's mission is to improve the quality, safety, efficiency,
effectiveness, and cost-effectiveness of health care for all Americans. The website provides evidence-based information to help people make decisions about
health care services.
Other Works ConsultedFrey R (2009). Ambulatory surgery centers. In B Narins, ed., Gale Encyclopedia of Surgery and Medical Tests: A Guide for Patients and Caregivers, 2nd ed., vol. 1, pp. 42–45. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale.Gross RJ (2007). Preoperative planning for ambulatory patients. In NH Fiebach et al., eds., Principles of Ambulatory Medicine. 7th ed., pp. 1605–1633. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.Rastegar DA (2007). Practicing evidence-based medicine. In NH Fiebach et al., eds., Principles of Ambulatory Medicine, 7th ed., pp. 13–25. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
October 27, 2011
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Michel M. Murr, MD - General Surgery, Bariatric Surgery
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