Hospital Departments and Their Functions (clinical)

This unit describes hospital departments and their functions.  This lecture is rather long, so I have divided it into two parts.  This is the second part and it covers Nursing Education, Administration, Research and Practice, Nursing Units, Surgery department (suite), Pathology/laboratory department, Radiology/imaging department, Dietary department, Respiratory care department, Rehabilitation services and Pharmacy.

The nursing education, administration, research, and practice department is devoted to nurses and nursing practice.  This department is responsible for providing in-service education to nurses and performing periodic competency assessments.  The purpose of this department is to promote, develop, and maintain an organizational climate conducive to quality nursing practice and effective management of the nursing resource.  Quality nursing practice is constantly evolving and incorporating new technologies and new ideas, most of which comes from evidence-based medicine.  Nursing practices are assessed according to the patient’s outcome.  If the patient’s outcome is favorable, then the practice is continued.  If the patient’s outcome is not favorable, the practice is changed to make it a favorable outcome.  As the world continues to change and evolve, nurses need much continuing education to help keep them on the cutting edge of change.  Many nurses get continuing education through seminars and conferences, hospitals offer in-service programs to meet this need for nurses and other healthcare professionals.

Nursing units are the next “department” we will discuss.  Nursing units are a collection of departments that usually include all the inpatient floors and other areas where nursing personnel are assigned.  In a typical hospital the units may include the intensive care unit, labor and delivery, the nursery, the medical/surgical floor, the orthopedic floor, and the cardiac floor/telemetry unit.  These are all areas where nurses are involved in direct patient care.

The surgical department or suite is a specialized area within the hospital where specialized equipment is used to perform surgical procedures on patients.  This area is usually called a suite because it houses the operating rooms, scrub area, recovery room, a sterile inner core, and sometimes the central sterile supply room.  It is very specialized and the personnel that work in this area have received additional training specific to the surgical area to be able to work there.

The next area is one of the first so-called ancillary services:  pathology and the clinical laboratory.  Pathology is mainly concerned with the examination of tissues, while the clinical laboratory performs many tests on body fluids and tissues.   The clinical laboratory is divided into a hematology section, a blood bank section, a clinical microbiology section, a clinical chemistry section, a urinalysis section,  a phlebotomy section, a referral section, and an immunology/serology section.  The lab provides objective data for physician to make diagnoses.

A second ancillary service that is found in almost all hospitals is the x-ray or diagnostic imaging department.  The name of this department expanded as the number of machines providing different types of images expanded.  At one time the only available imaging device was an x-ray machine.  Now there are CT, MRI, PET, mammography machines, etc.  The big push is for all imaging technologies to produce digital images so that the developing machine and all the hazardous chemicals associated with the developer machine can be discontinued at hospitals.  Specially trained technicians take the images, then a radiologist, an MD specializing in interpreting images, interprets the images and sends the report to the patient’s physician.

The dietary department is our next hospital department.  This is the department responsible for preparing nutritional, good tasting food for the patients who are confined to the hospital for any length of time.  These are the same people who prepare the special diets for particular individuals.  These diets may include clear liquids, liquid, soft, bland, etc.  They usually provide patients with three meals a day.  This department is also responsible for nutritional counseling to help patients understand eating properly for their condition is important for their health.

The respiratory care department is another ancillary department that provides specially trained individuals to perform specific tasks related to patient care.  Respiratory therapists evaluate, treat, and care for patients with breathing or cardiopulmonary disorders; administer therapeutic treatments and diagnostic procedures; consult with physicians to help develop and modify patient care plans; manage patients on ventilators.  They are an integral part of the health care team.

The rehabilitation services personnel diagnose and treat individuals of all ages who have medical problems or other health-related conditions, illnesses, or injuries that limits their abilities move and perform functional activities as well as they would like in their daily lives.  This department includes at least physical therapists and occupational therapists.  Other health care professionals such as speech pathologists, physical therapist assistants and occupational therapist assistants may also be employed by this department.

This department is always found in hospitals, but can also be found outside the hospital in retail stores.  This is the pharmacy department.  Personnel in the pharmacy department distribute drugs to individuals; advise patients, physicians, and health practitioners on the selection, dosages, interactions, and side effects of medications, as well as monitor the health and progress of those patients to ensure they use medications safely and effectively; compounding-mixing of ingredients to form medications; and administer vaccinations.

In summary, we have discussed the functions of the following hospital departments Nursing Education, Administration, Research and Practice; Nursing Units; Surgery department (suite); Pathology/laboratory department; Radiology/imaging department; Dietary department; Respiratory care department; Rehabilitation services; and Pharmacy

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