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Outpatient services are medical procedures or tests that can be done in a medical center without an overnight stay. Many procedures and tests can be done in a few hours. Outpatient services include:
Outpatient services usually cost less, because you don't need to stay overnight. Staff members at outpatient centers are well trained in the service they provide. Most of the time, these centers specialize in one kind of treatment or procedure. Often all the care you need can be provided in one place.
Most people can choose an outpatient center instead of a hospital if the needed service is available. But not all medical procedures can or should be done at an outpatient center.
Your doctor may recommend a center. You can also ask family or friends who have used outpatient services to tell you about their experiences.
To find the right center to provide the service you need, you'll need to ask some questions, such as:
Try to find out all you can about the outpatient center before you use it. It’s a good idea to visit the center before you decide.
Many health and government agencies rate or report on the quality of outpatient centers. Check with your state’s board of medicine or with your insurance company to learn more.
You can also use the Quality Check website from the Joint Commission. For more information, go to www.qualitycheck.org/consumer/searchQCR.aspx.
Frequently Asked Questions
Learning about outpatient services:
Using outpatient services:
Finding an outpatient service center:
More and more medical procedures are being offered in qualified outpatient service centers.
Outpatient services are offered in many settings. For instance, medical schools often provide various types of outpatient services, such as pain clinics or rehabilitation centers. Other types of outpatient facilities include:
Many outpatient service centers specialize in a specific area of medicine, such as orthopedics (bones) or cardiology (heart). These centers, like many hospitals, have advanced equipment and highly trained staff.
There are many benefits to outpatient services, depending on the type of medical procedure you need and on what you prefer.
When choosing an outpatient facility, consider:
Most outpatient service centers are accredited and approved for the types of treatment offered. But not all centers provide care that is right for you. Be sure to find out whether the provider you're considering is reputable and qualified. The following government and health agencies can help you learn about the quality of outpatient service centers:
It is important to check with your HMO, PPO, or health insurance provider to determine what outpatient services are covered. Your particular health plan coverage may limit your choice of services.
Choosing a quality outpatient center before you have a medical procedure is the best way to make sure that you'll receive excellent care. Friends and family who have used outpatient services may tell you about their personal experiences. Often your doctor will know about the quality of outpatient services in your area. You may want to start your search by talking with your doctor about your options. Next, find out which outpatient services are covered by your insurance company. The following questions may help you find the outpatient service center that best fits your needs:
You may have more questions based on your own health issues and the type of procedure or test you need. Ask questions, listen to the recommendation of your doctor and those you trust, and visit the facility to get the information you need to make the best decision for your health care.
|Joint Commission General Public Page|
This Joint Commission website has information about choosing a health care provider, patient safety, Quality Check (a way to check the performance of health care centers), and more.
|Joint Commission Quality Check|
|One Renaissance Boulevard|
|Oakbrook Terrace, IL 60181|
The Joint Commission compiles reports and national information on various health care services, including outpatient service centers. If you want to check on the performance of an outpatient service center, use the Quality Check feature on this Web site.
|Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality|
|540 Gaither Road|
|Rockville, MD 20850|
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) is one agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. AHRQ supports research initiatives that seek to improve the quality of health care in America. AHRQ's mission is to improve the quality, safety, efficiency, effectiveness, and cost-effectiveness of health care for all Americans. The website provides evidence-based information to help people make decisions about health care services.
Other Works Consulted
- Frey R (2009). Ambulatory surgery centers. In B Narins, ed., Gale Encyclopedia of Surgery and Medical Tests: A Guide for Patients and Caregivers, 2nd ed., vol. 1, pp. 42–45. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale.
- Gross RJ (2007). Preoperative planning for ambulatory patients. In NH Fiebach et al., eds., Principles of Ambulatory Medicine. 7th ed., pp. 1605–1633. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
- Rastegar DA (2007). Practicing evidence-based medicine. In NH Fiebach et al., eds., Principles of Ambulatory Medicine, 7th ed., pp. 13–25. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
|Primary Medical Reviewer||Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||Michel M. Murr, MD - General Surgery, Bariatric Surgery|
|Last Revised||October 27, 2011|
Last Revised: October 27, 2011
Author: Healthwise Staff
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