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Clinical Observation

Posted on December 4, 2013

Many hospitals now have an in-between unit for patients who are treated in the emergency department and require further observation before discharge but do not need to be admitted. If a patient only requires a short course of treatment and does not need extensive testing or an overnight stay, the doctor can send the patient to a separate unit for additional observation without admitting the patient to the hospital. This is called ÔÇťobservation."

Clinical observation is utilized when a patient is moved from the emergency department to a specialized, monitored unit while the doctor is waiting to see if the patient responds to a treatment intended to resolve a medical issue. If the patient responds, then he or she is sent home, never having been formally admitted to the hospital. This is especially helpful if the patient would otherwise have been discharged in the middle of the night when it is unlikely a change in condition would be noticed. It also removes the issue of insurance reimbursement as a factor in deciding whether to admit a patient.

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