An outpatient clinic is a medical facility that caters to the needs of patients who are not hospitalized for 24 hours or more. These patients often visit the clinic for consultation, diagnosis, and treatment. The term ambulatory care is used to refer to this kind of treatment, and the term outpatient is used to refer to people who seek this kind of treatment.
An outpatient clinic can run by a private entity or can also be a public facility. Some outpatient clinics are associated with hospitals that offer a full range of services while others are standalone institutions. Some outpatient clinics may even be physically located within hospitals. What really distinguishes an outpatient clinic is that it deals with people who do not have to stay overnight for treatment.
More so, outpatient clinics vary in terms of the services that they offer. Some outpatient clinics offer only general care, while others are very specialized. For example, an outpatient clinic may focus on providing care for pregnant women. There are also outpatient clinics that cater specifically to babies and children. Then there are outpatient clinics that focus on eye, ear, nose, and throat (EENT) conditions. More and more, there are outpatient clinics that offer a range of specialized services. These clinics make it convenient for patients to consult different specialists and receive treatment for various minor conditions without having to visit different locations.
There are also outpatient clinics that specialize in urgent care; that is, they provide an alternative to the emergency room services that major hospitals offer.