What is Ambulatory Care?
When a patient needs medical attention without the need for admission, it is called ambulatory care. Ambulatory care includes several medical procedures or treatments that can be performed on an ambulatory basis. Blood tests, X-rays, endoscopy, biopsy and vaccination are some examples of ambulatory care. A baby visiting a pediatrician for a monthly checkup is also considered as ambulatory care.
Many chronic medical conditions require regular ambulatory care appointments. Patients do not necessarily stay in the hospital for admission to be treated. Asthma patients often undergo outpatient care. Providing a nebulizer for asthma patients is an example of ambulatory care. The patient may go home after using the nebulizer.
Pregnant women often undergo outpatient care too. A regular visit to an obstetrician-gynecologist is considered an outpatient care. This visit is part of the pre-natal care, which includes ultrasound, amniocentesis, and other laboratory procedures essential for the pregnant mother. However, when a woman needs to give birth, she needs to be admitted and that is not part of an ambulatory care anymore.
In other terms, ambulatory care is also known as outpatient care. It means a patient can take oneself to a medical facility on his or her own. Hospitals provide outpatient or ambulatory care. Some good examples of sites where ambulatory care is provided are physician clinics or offices, hospital emergency departments, urgent care centers.
Physician offices or clinics offer outpatient services. Depending on the specialty of the physician, several ambulatory care procedures are given to patients. Cardiology, internal medicine, family medicine, obstetrics, gynecology, gastroenterology, endocrinology, dermatology and ophthalmology are some examples of outpatient care given in physician clinics.
Hospital emergency departments are also sites for outpatient care. Not all patients brought to emergency departments need emergency medicine. Those who visit the emergency departments not requiring admission are put under outpatient or ambulatory care. Remember, not all patients visiting the emergency departments need hospital admission.
Urgent care centers are very important. There is an estimate of over 15,000 urgent care centers providing ambulatory care in the United States. Urgent care centers provide services to patients who have condition that are not serious enough to have need of treatment in hospital. Urgent care centers are designed to cater the medical needs of patients needing ambulatory care that may be beyond normal office hours. Patients needing non emergency treatment or before physician appointment is available are served in urgent care centers.
Patients much prefer the outpatient care rather than being admitted in a hospital for treatment. Who would want to stay in a hospital for confinement? Aside from the boredom a patient may experience lying in bed in the hospital for several days, the expenses accumulate fast as one stays in confinement. However, hospitals also prefer to give patients ambulatory care. Actually, in the United States, hospitals would encourage patients to look for ambulatory care as much as possible. The reason behind this is that hospitals want their facilities to be free in case critical patients would need treatment. Moreover, this also helps cut down overall hospital operating expenses.