My watch list  



A patient is any person who receives medical attention, care, or treatment. The person is most often ill or injured and in need of treatment by a physician or other medical professional. Health consumer, health care consumer or client are other names for patient, usually used by governmental agencies, insurance companies, and/or patient groups (who may object to some implications of the word 'patient').



The word patient is derived from the Latin word patiens, the present participle of the deponent verb pati, meaning "one who endures" or "one who suffers".

Patient is also the adjective form of patience. Both senses of the word share a common origin.

In itself the definition of patient doesn't imply suffering or passivity but the role it describes is often associated with the definitions of the adjective form: enduring trying circumstances with even temper. Some have argued recently that the term should be dropped, because it underlines the inferior status of recipients of health care. [1]   For them, "the active patient is a contradiction in terms, and it is the assumption underlying the passivity that is the most dangerous". Unfortunately none of the alternative terms seem to offer a better definition.

  • Client, whose Latin root cliens means "one who is obliged to make supplications to a powerful figure for material assistance", carries a sense of subservience.
  • Consumer suggest both a financial relationship and a particular social/political stance, implying that health care services operate exactly like all other commercial markets. Many reject that term on the grounds that consumerism is an individualistic concept that fails to capture the particularity of health care systems.

Outpatient vs inpatient

An outpatient is a patient who is not hospitalized overnight but who visits a hospital, clinic, or associated facility for diagnosis or treatment. Treatment provided in this fashion is called ambulatory care. Outpatient surgery eliminates inpatient hospital admission, reduces the amount of medication prescribed, and uses a doctor's time more efficiently. More procedures are now being performed in a surgeon's office, termed office-based surgery, rather than in an operating room. Outpatient surgery is suited best for healthy people undergoing minor or intermediate procedures (limited urologic, ophthalmologic, or ear, nose, and throat procedures and procedures involving the extremities).[]

An inpatient on the other hand is 'admitted' to the hospital and stays overnight or for an indeterminate time, usually several days or weeks (though some cases, like coma patients, have stayed in hospitals for years).

See also

  • Casualty
  • Doctor-patient relationship
  • e-Patient
  • Hospital
  • Medicine
  • Patient advocacy
  • Patient empowerment
  • Patients Not Patents (an advocacy group)
  • Patients' Bill of Rights (US)
  • Virtual patient


  1. ^ Neuberger, J. (1999). "Let's do away with "patients"". British Medical Journal 318: 1756-8.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Patient". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
Your browser is not current. Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 does not support some functions on Chemie.DE