• Types of Hospitals

    Types of Hospitals

    • The type of hospital to which you are admitted depends on any or all of the following:
      • Where your doctor has privileges
      • Where you go in an emergency (the closest one)
      • The type of procedure you are having – more complicated procedures may require larger facilities
      • Your insurance – not all hospitals take all insurance
      • Your convenience and that of your family
    • University or Teaching Hospital – Affiliated with a medical school and will have students, interns and residents
    • Community Hospital – Hospital local to your home that may have interns and residents and is often quieter and certainly well suited for less complex procedures
    • VA (Veteran Administration) Hospitals – A series of government supported hospitals across the country for the care of veterans of the armed services
    • Private Hospitals – Physician run and owned hospitals are less common but include some of the most famous, such as the Cleveland Clinic
    • City Hospitals – Hospital Systems run by city government and originally set up to care for inner city populations and can represent the best in medical care (but quality can vary significantly)
    • Tertiary Care Center – A descriptive term for many of the above hospitals which are referral centers for the care of complex medical and surgical problems


    Hospitals vary not only by their organization, but also by the services they offer. Most hospitals take care of all problems but may be better known for treating patients with certain diagnoses. Others will specialize in a particular area such as heart disease, cancer treatment, or orthopedics. Sometimes your choice of hospital is limited to whichever hospital with which your HMO or insurance company has contracted. In that case, they may be referred to as network or out-of-network hospitals. Listed below on the most common types of hospitals:

    What are the major types of hospitals?

    • Teaching Hospitals: Associated with medical schools where attending staff members (fully trained physicians) teach new students and care for patients. They are considered esteemed places to practice medicine, but interns, residents, and fellows often provide most of the patient care under the supervision of senior physicians. The resident staff at most teaching hospitals are no longer allowed to work the long hours they did in the past. Now they are required to return home once they have completed a 24-hour shift. Previously, 72-hour shifts were considered normal.


    Teaching hospitals tend to be on the cutting edge of research and new techniques. This hospital environment is conducive to looking for new and better options to improve patient outcomes and quality of care.

    • Community Hospitals: Sometimes referred to as suburban hospitals, community hospitals were created as more people moved from the cities to outlying areas. Community hospitals tend to be in better financial shape than inner-city hospitals. They have more patients with insurance and don’t usually have to write off as much care as do inner city hospitals. As a result, these hospitals tend to have nicer rooms, better food, easier parking for visitors, and fewer security issues.


    Additionally, the nursing staff in these hospitals may have a little more time for patients because there are fewer staff shortages. In the teaching hospitals, nurses often don’t use the full complement of their clinical skills because of the presence of medical students, interns, residents and fellows. Not so in the community hospitals. The attending staff is comprises mainly voluntary doctors. Voluntary doctors are private physicians who have privileges at the hospital but are not compensated by the hospital. They are self-insured too, which limits the hospitals liability.

    In these hospitals, all patient care and surgical procedures are conducted by attending physicians rather than residents.

    • Veterans Administration (VA) Hospitals: The Veteran Administration provides free care to those who served in the United States military as well as their family members. They care for many patients with chronic medical problems such as diabetes and high blood pressure. These hospitals also become very skilled in specialized areas such as the treatments of amputees because of the unfortunately high frequency of these injuries among combat veterans. Like university hospitals these facilities often have ties to a medical school and may be used for training for medical students, interns, residents and fellows.


    What about hospital transfers?

    Most hospitals can accommodate and treat any condition, thus, the transfer of patients from one hospital to another is unusual. Transfers are most common situations where a patient presents highly unusual symptoms or severe trauma—certain cases may be referred to a burn unit or a moved to a trauma center from a community hospital. Generally speaking, though, the hospital you go to when you are ill will be the hospital where you stay until you get better.

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