It may seem unnecessary to define a "hospital" since everyone knows the nature of a hospital. A hospital began as a charitable institution for the needy, aged, infirm, or young. The word "hospital" comes from the Latin "hospes" which refers to either a visitor or the host who receives the visitor. From "hospes" came the Latin "hospitalia", an apartment for strangers or guests, and the medieval Latin "hospitale" and the Old French "hospital." It crossed the Channel in the 14th century and in England began a shift in the 15th century to mean a home for the elderly or infirm or a home for the down-and-out. "Hospital" only took on its modern meaning as "an institution where sick or injured are given medical or surgical care" in the 16th century. Other terms related to hospital include hospice, hospitality, hospitable, host, hostel and hotel. The Hôtel-Dieu, a name often given to a hospital in France during the Middle Ages, is the hotel (of) God.
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An institution for the treatment, care, and cure of the sick and wounded, for the study of disease, and for the training of physicians, nurses, and allied health personnel. [L. hospitalis, for a guest, fr. hospes (hospit-), a host, a guest]
- base h. a h. unit located in a military or recreational encampment; usually of small size and limited facilities, for immediate care of illnesses and injuries. SYN: camp h..
- camp h. SYN: base h..
- closed h. a h. that restricts membership on its attending or consulting staff, sometimes to employed physicians or physicians on a selective membership list, thereby limits who may admit and treat patients.
- day h. a special facility, or an arrangement within a h. setting, that enables the patient to come to the h. for treatment during the day and return home or to another facility at night. Cf.:night h..
- general h. any large civilian h. that is equipped to care for medical, surgical, maternity, and psychiatric cases, and usually has a resident medical staff.
- government h. a h. administered by officials of the city, county, state, or nation. SYN: public h..
- group h. a private h. organized and controlled by a group of physicians and restricted to the reception and care of their own patients.
- maternity h. a special h. for the care of women in childbirth.
- mental h. a medical institution for the care and treatment of persons with psychiatric and psychologic disorders.
- municipal h. a government h. administered by city officials.
- night h. a special facility, or an arrangement within a h. setting, providing treatment and lodging at night for patients able to work in the community during the day. Cf.:day h..
- open h. a h. where all physicians, not only members of the regular staff, or those on a selective membership list, are permitted to send their patients and control their treatment; extremely rare, as most hospitals limit physician access to some degree.
- philanthropic h. SYN: voluntary h..
- private h. 1. a h. similar to a group h. except that it is controlled by a single practitioner or by the practitioner and the associates in his or her office; 2. a h. operated for profit. SYN: proprietary h..
- proprietary h. SYN: private h..
- public h. SYN: government h..
- special h. a h. for the medical and surgical care of patients with specific types of diseases, as of the ear, nose, and throat, eyes, or mental illness.
- state h. a h. supported in part by taxpayers and administered by state government officials.
- teaching h. a h. that also functions as a formal center of learning for the training of physicians, nurses, and allied health personnel.
- Veterans Administration h. a h. operated at federal government expense and administered by the Veterans Administration for care of veterans of U.S. wars and retired military personnel.
- voluntary h. a h. supported in part by voluntary contributions and under the control of a local, usually self-appointed, board of managers; a non-profit h.. SYN: philanthropic h..
- weekend h. a special facility, or an arrangement within a h. setting, which enables a patient to work in the community during the work week and receive treatment in the h. during the weekend.

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hos·pi·tal 'häs-.pit-əl n, often attrib
1) a charitable institution for the needy, aged, infirm, or young
2 a) an institution where the sick or injured are given medical or surgical care when used in British English following a preposition, the article is usu. omitted <came and saw me in \hospital (Robert Graves)>
b) a place for the care and treatment of sick and injured animals

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an institution providing medical or psychiatric care and treatment of patients. Such care may be residential (in-patient), including the care of patients for a whole day and their return home at night (day care). Out-patient services include consultation with specialists by prior appointment, X-rays, laboratory tests, physiotherapy, and accident and emergency services for those requiring urgent care. Most health districts have a district general hospital (DGH), which provides sufficient basic services for the population of the district. Some larger hospitals have resources that are more highly specialized, to meet the needs of a wider population, providing so-called regional or supraregional (national) services. Such hospitals often provide training for medical students (teaching or university hospitals) and for postgraduate education. Some smaller hospitals - known as community hospitals - may be staffed by general practitioners and are intended for people for whom home care is not practicable on social grounds. Since 1991 hospitals have become self-governing NHS trust, independent of Health Authority control, their income deriving chiefly from contracts to provide services to Primary Care Trust.

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hos·pi·tal (hosґpĭ-təl) [L. hospitalium, from hospes, host, guest] an institution for the treatment of the sick. “An institution suitably located, constructed, organized, managed and personneled, to supply, scientifically, economically, efficiently and unhindered, all or any recognized part of the complex requirements for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of physical, mental, and the medical aspect of social ills; with functioning facilities for training new workers in the many special professional, technical and economic fields essential to the discharge of its proper functions; and with adequate contacts with physicians, other hospitals, medical schools and all accredited health agencies engaged in the better health program.”—Council on Medical Education.

Medical dictionary. 2011.

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