is any recipient of healthcare services. The patient is most often ill
Illness is a state of poor health. Illness is sometimes considered another word for disease. Others maintain that fine distinctions exist...
or injured and in need of treatment by a physician
A physician is a health care provider who practices the profession of medicine, which is concerned with promoting, maintaining or restoring human health through the study, diagnosis, and treatment of disease, injury and other physical and mental impairments...
, advanced practice registered nurse, veterinarian
A veterinary physician, colloquially called a vet, shortened from veterinarian or veterinary surgeon , is a professional who treats disease, disorder and injury in animals....
, or other health care provider
A health care provider is an individual or an institution that provides preventive, curative, promotional or rehabilitative health care services in a systematic way to individuals, families or communities....
The word patient
originally meant 'one who suffers'. This English noun comes from the Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...
, the present participle of the deponent
In linguistics, a deponent verb is a verb that is active in meaning but takes its form from a different voice, most commonly the middle or passive. A deponent verb doesn't have active forms; it can be said to have deposited them .-Greek:...
verb, patior, meaning 'I am suffering,' and akin to the Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...
verb πάσχειν (= paskhein
, to suffer) and its cognate noun πάθος (= pathos).
Outpatients and inpatients
) is a patient who is not hospitalized for 24 hours or more but who visits a hospital
A hospital is a health care institution providing patient treatment by specialized staff and equipment. Hospitals often, but not always, provide for inpatient care or longer-term patient stays....
A clinic is a health care facility that is primarily devoted to the care of outpatients...
, or associated facility for diagnosis or treatment. Treatment provided in this fashion is called ambulatory care
Ambulatory care is a personal health care consultation, treatment or intervention using advanced medical technology or procedures delivered on an outpatient basis Ambulatory care is a personal health care consultation, treatment or intervention using advanced medical technology or procedures...
. Outpatient surgery
Outpatient surgery, also known as ambulatory surgery, same-day surgery or day surgery, is surgery that does not require an overnight hospital stay. The term “outpatient” arises from the fact that surgery patients may go home and do not need an overnight hospital bed...
eliminates inpatient hospital admission, reduces the amount of medication
A pharmaceutical drug, also referred to as medicine, medication or medicament, can be loosely defined as any chemical substance intended for use in the medical diagnosis, cure, treatment, or prevention of disease.- Classification :...
prescribed, and uses the physician's time more efficiently. More procedures are now being performed in a surgeon
In medicine, a surgeon is a specialist in surgery. Surgery is a broad category of invasive medical treatment that involves the cutting of a body, whether human or animal, for a specific reason such as the removal of diseased tissue or to repair a tear or breakage...
's office, termed office-based surgery, rather than in a hospital-based operating room. Outpatient surgery is suited best for healthy patients undergoing minor or intermediate procedures (limited urologic, ophthalmologic, or ear, nose, and throat procedures and procedures involving the extremities).
), on the other hand, is "admitted" to the hospital and stays overnight or for an indeterminate time, usually several days or weeks (though some cases, like coma
In medicine, a coma is a state of unconsciousness, lasting more than 6 hours in which a person cannot be awakened, fails to respond normally to painful stimuli, light or sound, lacks a normal sleep-wake cycle and does not initiate voluntary actions. A person in a state of coma is described as...
patients, have been in hospitals for years). Treatment provided in this fashion is called inpatient care
Inpatient care is the care of patients whose condition requires admission to a hospital. Progress in modern medicine and the advent of comprehensive out-patient clinics ensure that patients are only admitted to a hospital when they are extremely ill or are have severe physical...
. The admission to the hospital involves the production of an admission note
An admission note is part of a medical record that documents the patient's status, reasons why the patient is being admitted for inpatient care to a hospital or other facility, and the initial instructions for that patient's care...
. The leaving of the hospital is officially termed discharge
, and involves a corresponding discharge note
Misdiagnosis is the leading cause of medical error in outpatient facilities. Ever since the National Institute of Medicine’s groundbreaking 1999 report
, “To Err is Human,” found up to 98,000 hospital patients die from preventable medical errors in the U.S. each year, government and private sector efforts have focused on inpatient safety. While patient safety efforts have focused on inpatient hospital settings for more than a decade, medical errors are even more likely to happen in a doctor’s office or outpatient clinic or center.
Due to concerns such as dignity
Dignity is a term used in moral, ethical, and political discussions to signify that a being has an innate right to respect and ethical treatment. It is an extension of the Enlightenment-era concepts of inherent, inalienable rights...
, human rights
Human rights are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." Human rights are thus conceived as universal and egalitarian . These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national...
and political correctness
Political correctness is a term which denotes language, ideas, policies, and behavior seen as seeking to minimize social and institutional offense in occupational, gender, racial, cultural, sexual orientation, certain other religions, beliefs or ideologies, disability, and age-related contexts,...
, the term "patient" is not always used to refer to a person receiving health care. Other terms that are sometimes used include health consumer
, health care consumer
; however, such terminology may be offensive to those receiving public health care as it implies a non-existent business relationship (in at least some countries, it is illegal to practice business within any public hospital). In veterinary medicine, the client
is the owner or guardian of the patient. These may be used by governmental agencies, insurance companies, patient groups, or health care facilities. Individuals who use or have used psychiatric services may alternatively refer to themselves as consumers, users, or survivors
The psychiatric survivors movement is a diverse association of individuals who are either currently clients of mental health services , or who consider themselves survivors of interventions by psychiatry, or who identify themselves as ex-patients of mental health services...
In nursing home
A nursing home, convalescent home, skilled nursing unit , care home, rest home, or old people's home provides a type of care of residents: it is a place of residence for people who require constant nursing care and have significant deficiencies with activities of daily living...
s and assisted living
Assisted living residences or assisted living facilities provide supervision or assistance with activities of daily living ; coordination of services by outside health care providers; and monitoring of resident activities to help to ensure their health, safety, and well-being.Assistance may...
facilities, the term resident
is generally used in lieu of patient
, but it is not uncommon for staff members at such a facility to use the term patient
in reference to residents. Similarly, those receiving home health care are called clients
Patients' satisfaction with an encounter with health care service is mainly dependent on the duration and efficiency of care, and how empathetic and communicable the health care providers are. It is favored by a good doctor-patient relationship
The doctor-patient relationship is central to the practice of healthcare and is essential for the delivery of high-quality health care in the diagnosis and treatment of disease. The doctor-patient relationship forms one of the foundations of contemporary medical ethics...
. Also, patients that are well informed of the necessary procedures in a clinical encounter, and the time it is expected to take, are generally more satisfied even if there is a longer waiting time.
a peer-reviewed article published in the British Medical Journal's (BMJ) first issue dedicated to patients in its 160 year history
review article with views on the meaning of the words "good doctor" vs. "good patient"