or out-pa·tient

[ out-pey-shuhnt ]
/ ˈaʊtˌpeɪ ʃənt /


a patient who receives treatment at a hospital, as in an emergency room or clinic, but is not hospitalized.



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Origin of outpatient

First recorded in 1705–15; out- + patient
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020


What does outpatient mean?

Outpatient is commonly used as an adjective to describe treatment that does not require a patient to stay overnight at a hospital or other care facility—they come and leave on the same day.

Outpatient is used in contrast with the term inpatient, which describes treatment that requires a patient to be admitted for at least one night.

The terms are especially used in phrases like outpatient procedure (after which the patient can leave, instead of staying for further observation or treatment), inpatient treatment (which requires the patient to stay overnight at the hospital), and inpatient room (where such patients stay).

Outpatient and inpatient are typically used in the context of hospitals, though inpatient can also refer to a patient who is admitted overnight at a mental health facility or other kind of clinic.

Both terms can also be used as nouns referring to such patients.

Example: I have an outpatient procedure scheduled for tomorrow morning, so I should be back home by the afternoon.

Where does outpatient come from?

The first records of the word outpatient come from the early 1700s. It’s a combination of the word patient, referring to someone receiving medical treatment, and the prefix out-, which indicates that the patient does not have to stay in the hospital or facility.

Patients are called outpatients if they’re in and out in the same day. On the other hand, patients are called inpatients as soon as they’re admitted for an overnight stay. But inpatients can stay for much longer than one night. Sometimes, inpatient care can take weeks or even months. For this reason, the word inpatient is often associated with treatment of more serious conditions, whereas outpatient treatment is more often associated with minor issues, as indicated by phrases like routine outpatient surgery. An outpatient clinic is a facility that does not admit patients overnight.

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What are some other forms related to outpatient?

What are some words that share a root or word element with outpatient


What are some words that often get used in discussing outpatient?

What are some words outpatient may be commonly confused with?

How is outpatient used in real life?

Outpatient is often used in contrast with inpatient. It’s most often used in the context of treatment for minor medical issues.


Try using outpatient!

Is outpatient used correctly in the following sentence?

I was an outpatient, so I was back home the same day after my procedure.

Example sentences from the Web for outpatient

British Dictionary definitions for outpatient

/ (ˈaʊtˌpeɪʃənt) /


a nonresident hospital patientCompare inpatient
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Medical definitions for outpatient

[ outpā′shənt ]


A patient who is admitted to a hospital or clinic for treatment that does not require an overnight stay.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.