The outpatient clinic of a hospital, also called an outpatient department provides diagnosis and care for patients that do not need to stay overnight This is distinct from clinics independent of hospitals, almost all of which are designed mostly or exclusively for outpatient care and may also be called outpatient clinics.
The outpatient department is an important part of the overall running of the hospital. It is normally integrated with the in-patient services and manned by consultant physicians and surgeons who also attend inpatients in the wards. Many patients are examined and given treatment as outpatients before being admitted to the hospital at a later date as inpatients. When discharged, they may attend the outpatient clinic for follow-up treatment