If you’re looking for mental health care or alcohol or drug rehab, you may be wondering, “inpatient vs outpatient, what’s the difference?” The terms have very different definitions in the healthcare world, but many are unaware of the differences between the two. Knowing the difference between inpatient and outpatient care can give you the ability to better manage your health care. It can also help when choosing what type of care is right for you, and help you plan for out-of-pocket expenses.
Below is everything you need to know about inpatient vs outpatient care, and which one is best for you.
What Is Inpatient Care?
An inpatient program is most often provided by a hospital or other inpatient facilities such as a mental health care facility or drug and alcohol rehabilitation center. In its most basic sense, inpatient care is when someone is admitted to the hospital and stays overnight. This stay can range from a few nights to an extended period of time depending on the type of care being provided. During inpatient stays, physicians, mental health providers, or other trained professionals keep patients at the hospital to monitor them more closely.
The decision of inpatient vs outpatient often comes down to what each program offers. With inpatient, you have the advantage of being under constant supervision, which may be beneficial for those needing drug or alcohol treatment. Other benefits of an inpatient program include:
- Around-the-clock support
- Comprehensive care for co-occurring mental health conditions
- Removal from the people, places, and situations that can worsen symptoms or cause a potential relapse
- Medication management (if deemed necessary)
- Individual, group, and family therapy
- Access to 12-step programs
While not universal, most inpatient programs last anywhere from three to ten days for most mental health admissions, and between 16 and 28 days for drug- or alcohol-related stays. Once you no longer require inpatient care, you are discharged from the facility. Discharge notes often include instructions to follow up with certain doctors, take prescribed medications, and even receive outpatient services, if needed.
What Is Outpatient Care?
Outpatient care is a type of treatment that does not involve an overnight stay in the hospital. Virtually all other types of care, ranging from group therapy to mental health counseling, can be described as outpatient.
During outpatient treatment, patients are able to continue their normal day-to-day activities alongside treatment. Outpatient care can be scheduled around your normal work schedule to avoid interruption and offer flexibility while still providing a high standard of care.
Some benefits of outpatient treatment include:
- Flexibility around your schedule
- Referrals for medication management
- More private than inpatient
- More affordable than inpatient care
- Ability to maintain a job
- Reduced likelihood of needing to travel for treatment
Outpatient care may be provided in a hospital, as well as a walk-in clinic, an outpatient surgery center, and even your doctor’s office.
What Is the Difference Between Inpatient and Outpatient Treatment?
Understanding inpatient vs outpatient care is important in order to ensure you get the best care possible for your needs. As previously mentioned, the main difference between inpatient and outpatient programs is whether or not you stay overnight in the hospital or treatment center.
While there is a clear difference between inpatient and outpatient treatment, there is a small gray area that you should be aware of. Occasionally, physicians or health care professionals will assign a patient “observation status” while they determine whether hospitalization is required. This allows doctors a bit more time to evaluate you and make the most appropriate decision. While this typically will not last more than 24 hours, there are instances where a patient may need observation status for more than 24 hours.
Another main difference in the inpatient vs outpatient conversation is the type of personnel overseeing treatment. Primary care physicians have traditionally been considered outpatient providers, as their services are usually provided during a single visit. On the other hand, specialists like mental health providers or addiction counselors are thought of as inpatient providers, as their services typically require longer, more intensive care.
Now that you understand the difference between inpatient and outpatient care, you may be wondering which one is best for your needs.
Inpatient vs Outpatient Care: What’s Right For Me?
While learning more about inpatient vs outpatient care on your own can be beneficial, it’s always important to speak with a medical professional. A licensed medical professional, mental health counselor, or addiction specialist can help assess your needs and locate a treatment center that is right for you.
Whether you need outpatient or inpatient services is often determined by the type of care you require. When considering inpatient vs outpatient, think of the benefits of each, and then consider your exact needs. If around-the-clock care seems better for you then an inpatient stay can be a great option. For those who may want more private, flexible treatment options, outpatient care is usually best.
Typically, inpatient care is recommended for people struggling with psychiatric conditions, substance use disorders, or other serious mental health conditions. Outpatient treatment is often best for those who don’t require a prolonged stay in a facility. Services provided at an outpatient program can include counseling, group therapy, medical consultations, and psychiatry.
Another important consideration is price. Since inpatient care involves an extended stay at a treatment center and around-the-clock care, it will typically be more expensive than outpatient care. This is an important factor for those who may want to take their financial situation into consideration, or for those without insurance.
Mental Health Care and Drug Rehab At Baton Rouge Behavioral Hospital
If you or someone you know is struggling to determine whether inpatient vs outpatient treatment is the right move, Baton Rouge Behavioral Hospital is here to help. At our treatment center, we offer both inpatient and outpatient services, which can be tailored to meet your exact needs.
At Baton Rouge Behavioral Hospital, we are well versed in treating everything from psychiatric disorders to severe drug and alcohol addiction. Through our uniquely crafted programs, our patients have access to some of the most cutting-edge treatment options.
If inpatient care is right for you, our addiction treatment program and adult psychiatric program may be right for you. In these programs, we offer patients specialized inpatient care that provides them with around-the-clock medical support and supervision. During their stay, our patients have access to some of the following treatments:
For those who may be looking for outpatient care, we offer an intensive outpatient program that can help you continue your day-to-day activities, while still ensuring you receive high-quality care. Here, our patients have access to therapy sessions, skill-development groups, and relapse prevention groups, all while being able to return home each night.
No matter what kind of care you need, Baton Rouge Behavioral Hospital is ready to help. If you have more questions about inpatient vs outpatient care, or if you would like more information on any of our services, give us a call at 225-300-8470. You can also contact us online using our confidential contact form. Remember, getting help is hard, but you don’t have to do it alone.