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Any individual who receives medical care services from healthcare practitioners is referred to as a patient. The patient is usually sick or wounded and requires medical attention from a doctor, nurse, psychologist, dentist, veterinarian, or other health care professional.
An outpatient (or out-patient) is a patient who visits an outpatient clinic with no intention of staying longer than the visit's time. Even if the patient is not officially admitted as an outpatient with a note, their presence is recorded, and the physician will normally leave a note describing the reason for the appointment, tests, or treatment. This should include the names and titles of the participants, the patient's name and date of birth, the patient's signature of informed consent, the approximate pre and post-service period for history and exam (before and after), any anesthesia, medications, or potential treatment plans required, and the estimated time of discharge absent any (further) complications. Ambulatory care is the term for this type of treatment. In contrast, an inpatient (or in-patient) is "admitted" to a hospital for an indefinite period of time, normally several days or weeks, but in some severe circumstances, such as coma or permanent vegetative state, patients may be held in hospitals for years, often until death. Inpatient care is the term for this type of treatment. The admission to the hospital involves the production of an admission note. The leaving of the hospital is officially termed discharge and involves a corresponding discharge note.
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