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Hospitals offer medical and surgical care to the sick and injured, along with accommodation while they recover. At the same time, they also provide outpatient, emergency, psychiatric, and rehabilitation services to meet various community needs. In addition to providing medical care, hospitals also act as hubs for medical research and training. Hospitals use clinical procedures and evidence-based practice standards to deliver patient care. To deliver safe and efficient care, a nurse must stay up to date on these standards. The nurse must regularly examine patient outcomes as part of the nursing process.

Hospitals are classified into various categories. The first classification focuses on ownership: public or private and for-profit or non-profit. Local, state, and national governments fund and operate public hospitals and non-profit institutions. Patients admitted to a public hospital may not have health insurance, and treatments are offered at little or no cost to the patient. The expense is covered by tax revenue or public funding. Private hospitals are run by towns, churches, companies, or philanthropic groups and may be for-profit or non-profit. Many people receiving care in private hospitals have personal health insurance or a healthcare plan.

The second classification focuses on the size and services provided. The size of a hospital might range from twenty to hundreds of beds. Based on the size and location of the hospital, various services are provided. Most hospitals offer emergency treatment, inpatient care, surgery, diagnostic testing, and patient education. Other hospital services may include critical care, obstetrical care, social services, outpatient clinics and surgeries, educational programs, and long-term skilled nursing care facilities. Hospitals may provide care for all sorts of illnesses and injuries, or they may specialize in treating certain ailments. Specialty hospitals, or special sections inside regular hospitals, cater to the diverse requirements of specific patient groups, such as children and patients of all age groups needing rehabilitation, cancer care, mental or drug-dependency treatment, or patients with severe burns.

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