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About Hospitals

What is a Hospital?

A Hospital is a health care institution that provides medical and surgical treatment. Hospitals provide emergency care in response to injuries and sudden or severe illness, laboratory and other diagnostic services, scheduled surgeries, labor and delivery services, inpatient treatment, and recovery services. Many Hospitals also offer a range of support services including prescription services, family support, counseling, and home nursing services. There are more than 5,500 registered Hospitals in the United States.

The vast majority of Hospitals are Acute Care Hospitals, which provide short-term care for illness, disease, injury, or surgery. Less than 10% are Long-Term Care Hospitals, which treat chronic illness, provide rehabilitation services, and offer psychiatric care.

A Teaching Hospital is a Hospital affiliated with a medical school. Teaching Hospitals have a shared administration with the medical school and provide opportunities for the education and training of medical students, residents, and interns. Hospitals affiliated with medical schools also conduct research projects and trials.

Many Hospitals provide highly specialized health services. These Hospitals are called Tertiary Hospitals. Tertiary Hospitals specialize in areas of care such as neonatal intensive care, trauma services, and cardiovascular surgery. Most Tertiary Hospitals are also Teaching Hospitals. Children's Hospitals serve children and adolescents exclusively. Typically, Children's Hospitals treat patients up to age 18.

System Hospitals are Hospitals that are centrally administered as one part of a broader group of health care facilities, usually as the result of a merger or acquisition. The system is typically comprised of one or more Hospitals, as well as satellite facilities and specialized facilities. Network Hospitals are similar in that they collaborate and cooperate with other health facilities and health service providers. However, in a network, the Hospitals and other service providers are administered independently. Hospitals may also be either for-profit or non-profit.

Many Hospitals are run by federal, state, county, or local governments. The U.S. Veterans Administration operates numerous hospitals as part of its extensive health care system. Other federal agencies that operate Hospitals include the Department of Defense and the Department of Health and Human Services. There are just under 1,000 Hospitals owned by state, county, or local governments in the U.S.