Health United States 2020-2021

Hospital

According to the American Hospital Association (AHA), hospitals are licensed institutions with at least six beds whose primary function is to provide diagnostic and therapeutic patient services for medical conditions; they have an organized physician staff; and they provide continuous nursing services under the supervision of registered nurses. The World Health Organization (WHO) considers an establishment to be a hospital if it is permanently staffed by at least one physician, can offer inpatient accommodation, and can provide active medical and nursing care. Hospitals may be classified by type of service, ownership, size by number of beds, and length of stay. (Also see Sources and Definitions, Bed, health facility.)

Community hospital

Based on the AHA definition, includes all nonfederal, short-term general and special hospitals whose facilities and services are available to the public. Special hospitals include obstetrics and gynecology; eye, ear, nose, and throat; rehabilitation; orthopedic; and other specialty services. Short-term general and special children’s hospitals are also considered to be community hospitals. A hospital may include a nursing home-type unit and still be classified as short-term, provided that the majority of its patients are admitted to units where the average length of stay is less than 30 days. Hospital units of institutions such as prisons and college infirmaries that are not open to the public and are contained within a nonhospital facility are not included in the category of community hospitals. Traditionally, the definition has included all nonfederal short-stay hospitals except facilities for people with intellectual disabilities.

Registered hospital

Those registered with AHA. An institution may be registered by AHA as a hospital if it is accredited as a hospital by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations or is certified as a provider of acute services under Title 18 of the Social Security Act and has provided AHA with documents verifying the accreditation or certification.

Short-stay hospital

In the National Health Interview Survey, short-stay hospitals are defined as any hospital or hospital department in which the type of service provided is general; maternity; eye, ear, nose, and throat; children’s; or osteopathic.

Special hospital

Those providing diagnostic and treatment services for patients who have specified medical conditions, both surgical and nonsurgical.

Page last reviewed: August 12, 2022