Outpatient clinic (hospital department)

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This article is about outpatient clinics or departments of hospitals. For outpatient clinics not connected with hospitals, see clinic.

The outpatient clinic of a hospital, also called an outpatient department (or outpatient ward) provides diagnosis and care for patients that do not need to stay overnight.

Etymology[edit]

For more details on this topic, see Clinic § Large outpatient clinics ("polyclinics").

In many languages, there is a single term used for both outpatient departments of hospitals and independent outpatient clinics. This term is etymologically related to the English term policlinic. The English term policlinic is however not used in UK English;[1][2] in US English it used only very rarely, only by members of the medical profession, and usually only when referring to the outpatient departments of European hospitals.[3] It is pronounced exactly like the more common term polyclinic, whose spelling arose due to confusion caused by the identical pronunciation[4] and which is used to refer to several different kinds of health care institutions (see Polyclinic (disambiguation)) but not to outpatient departments of hospitals.

So both policlinic and polyclinic are in fact false friends of the single term used in many languages besides English to refer to both kinds of institutions.[5] Many non-native speakers, even in the medical profession, nevertheless use these English terms erroneously and instead of the more common terms "(independent) outpatient clinic" (often called simply "clinic") on the one hand and "outpatient department", "outpatient ward" or "(hospital) outpatient clinic" on the other.

References[edit]