Hospital Departments List and Section Definitions

Ian C. Langtree Content Writer/Editor for Disabled World
Published: 2013/03/06 - Updated: 2023/02/24
Contents: Summary - Main - Related Publications

Synopsis: Definitions and descriptions of the most common hospital departments and the services provided by each section. Standard hospital support units include a dispensary or pharmacy, pathology, and radiology. On the non-medical side, there often are medical records departments and a release of information department. Hospitals may also have acute services such as an emergency department or specialist trauma center, burn unit, surgery, or urgent care.


A hospital is a healthcare institution providing patient treatment with specialized health science, auxiliary healthcare staff, and medical equipment. The best-known type of hospital is the general hospital, which typically has an emergency department to treat urgent health problems ranging from fire and accident victims to sudden illness. A district hospital typically is the primary health care facility in its region, with many beds for intensive care and additional beds for patients who need long-term care. Specialized hospitals include trauma centers, rehabilitation hospitals, children's hospitals, seniors' (geriatric) hospitals, and hospitals dealing with specific medical needs such as psychiatric treatment and certain disease categories.

Main Digest

Common Hospital Departments

Hospitals vary widely in their services and, therefore, in their departments. Hospitals may have acute services such as an emergency department or specialist trauma center, burn unit, surgery, or urgent care. These may be backed up by more specialist units such as cardiology or coronary care, intensive care units, neurology, cancer center, and obstetrics and gynecology.

Some hospitals will also have outpatient departments, while others may have chronic treatment units such as behavioral health services, dentistry, dermatology, psychiatric ward, rehabilitation services (Rehab), and physical therapy.

Common hospital support units include a dispensary or pharmacy, pathology, and radiology. On the non-medical side, there often are medical records departments and a release of information department. Nursing services are considered one of the most important aspects of distinguished medical care.

Definitions of Hospital Departments

Accident and emergency (A&E)
Also called Casualty Department, where you're likely to be taken if you have arrived in an ambulance or emergency.
At the Admitting Department, the patient will be required to provide personal information and sign consent forms before being taken to the hospital unit or ward. If the individual is critically ill, then this information is usually obtained from a family member.
Doctors in this department give anesthetic for operations and procedures. An anesthetic is a drug or agent that produces a complete or partial loss of feeling. There are three kinds of anesthetic: general, regional, and local.
Breast Screening
Screens women for breast cancer and is usually linked to the X-ray or radiology department.
Burn Center (Burn Unit or Burns Unit)
A hospital specializing in the treatment of burns. Burn centers often treat and recover patients with more severe burns.
Provides medical care to patients who have problems with their heart or circulation.
Central Sterile Services Department (CSSD)
(Sterile Processing Department (SPD) - Sterile Processing - Central Supply Department (CSD) - Central Supply) - A place in hospitals and other health care facilities that performs sterilization and other actions on medical equipment, devices, and consumables.
Chaplains promote the spiritual and pastoral well-being of patients, relatives, and staff.
Coronary Care Unit (CCU)
(Cardiac intensive care unit (CICU) - A hospital ward specialized in the care of patients with heart attacks, unstable angina, cardiac dysrhythmia and other cardiac conditions that require continuous monitoring and treatment.
Critical Care
Also called intensive care, this department is for seriously ill patients.
Diagnostic Imaging
Also known as X-Ray Department and/or Radiology Department.
Discharge Lounge
Patients who don't need to stay in a ward are transferred to the lounge on the day of discharge. Many hospitals now have discharge lounges with TVs, radio, puzzles, magazines, books, and newspapers.
Elderly Services
Covers and assists with a wide range of issues associated with seniors.
Finance Department
Performs all works related to budget and ideal use of the items of such budget. Also, it prepares payrolls and monthly wages and concludes contracts of operation and maintenance, and purchases. In addition, it makes available all amounts of money required for the procurement of all materials and equipment.
This department investigates and treats digestive and upper and lower gastrointestinal diseases.
General Services
Support Services include services provided by Departments such as Portering, Catering, Housekeeping, Security, Health & Safety, Switch, Laundry, and the management of facilities such as parking, baby tagging, access control, CCTV, etc.
General Surgery
Covers a wide range of types of surgery and procedures on patients.
Investigates and treats problems relating to the female urinary tract and reproductive organs, such as Endometriosis, infertility, and incontinence.
These hospital services work with the laboratory. In addition, doctors treat blood diseases and malignancies related to the blood.
Health & Safety
The role of the occupational health and safety department is to promote and maintain the highest possible degree of health and safety for all employees, physicians, volunteers, students, and contractors, and actively participates in quality, safety and risk initiatives. Numerous health and safety issues associated with healthcare facilities include bloodborne pathogens and biological hazards, potential chemical and drug exposures, waste anesthetic gas exposures, respiratory hazards, ergonomic hazards from lifting and repetitive tasks, laser hazards, hazards associated with laboratories, and radioactive material and x-ray hazards. In addition to the medical staff, large healthcare facilities employ various trades with health and safety hazards. These include mechanical maintenance, medical equipment maintenance, housekeeping, food service, building and grounds maintenance, laundry, and administrative staff.
Intensive Care Unit (ICU)
(Intensive Therapy Unit, Intensive Treatment Unit (ITU), Critical Care Unit (CCU) - A special department of a hospital or health care facility that provides intensive treatment medicine and caters to patients with severe and life-threatening illnesses and injuries, which require constant, close monitoring and support from specialist equipment and medications.
Human Resources
Role is to provide a professional, efficient, and customer-focused service to managers and staff and, in turn, facilitate the delivery of a professional, efficient and customer focused service to patients.
Infection Control
Primarily responsible for conducting surveillance of hospital-acquired infections and investigating and controlling outbreaks or infection clusters among patients and health care personnel. The department calculates rates of hospital-acquired infections, collates antibiotic susceptibility data, performs analysis of aggregated infection data, and provides comparative data to national benchmarks over time.
Information Management
Meaningful information can be used in quality management, continuous quality improvement, and peer review. By improving the quality of information, core data can be provided for randomized clinical trials, outcomes research, and many studies.
Maternity wards provide antenatal care, delivery of babies and care during childbirth, and postnatal support.
Medical Records
Includes a variety of types of "notes" entered over time by health care professionals, recording observations and administration of drugs and therapies, orders for the administration of drugs and therapies, test results, x-rays, reports, etc.
The microbiology department provides an extensive clinical service, including mycology, parasitology, mycobacteriology, a high-security pathology unit, and a healthcare-associated infection investigation unit, as well as routine bacteriology and an expanding molecular diagnostic repertoire.
Closely linked with the hospital maternity department, provides care and support for babies and their families.
Monitors and assesses patients with various kidney (renal) problems and conditions.
A medical specialty dealing with disorders of the nervous system. Specifically, it deals with the diagnosis and treatment of all categories of disease involving the central, peripheral, and autonomic nervous systems, including their coverings, blood vessels, and all effector tissue, such as muscle. Includes the brain, spinal cord, and spinal cord injuries (SCI).
Nutrition and Dietetics
Dietitians and nutritionists provide specialist advice on diet for hospital wards and outpatient clinics.
Specialist nurses, midwives, and imaging technicians provide maternity services such as antenatal and postnatal care, maternal and fetal surveillance, and prenatal diagnosis.
Occupational Therapy
Helps physically or mentally impaired people, including temporary disabilities, practice in the fields of both healthcare as well as social care. Often abbreviated as "OT," Occupational Therapy promotes health by enabling people to perform meaningful and purposeful occupations. These include (but are not limited to) work, leisure, self-care, and domestic and community activities. Occupational therapists work with individuals, families, groups, and communities to facilitate health and well-being through engagement or re-engagement in occupation.
A branch of medicine that deals with cancer and tumors. A medical professional who practices oncology is an oncologist. The Oncology department provides treatments, including radiotherapy and chemotherapy, for cancerous tumors and blood disorders.
Ophthalmology is a branch of medicine that deals with the diseases and surgery of the visual pathways, including the eye, hairs, and areas surrounding the eye, such as the lacrimal system and eyelids. The term ophthalmologist is an eye specialist for medical and surgical problems. The Ophthalmology department provides ophthalmic eye-related services for both in and outpatients.
Treats conditions related to the musculoskeletal system, including joints, ligaments, bones, muscles, tendons, and nerves.
Otolaryngology (Ear, Nose, and Throat)
The ENT Department provides comprehensive and specialized care covering both Medical and Surgical conditions related not just specifically to the Ear, Nose, and Throat, but also other areas within the Head and Neck region. It is often divided into sub-specialties dealing with only one part of the traditional specialty (ontology, rhinology, and laryngology).
Pain Management
Helps treat patients with severe long-term pain. Alternative pain relief treatments, such as acupuncture, nerve blocks, and drug treatment, are also catered for.
Patient Accounts
The Patient Accounts Department answers all billing questions and concerns, requests for itemized bills, and account balance inquiries. The patient accounts department also assists patients with insurance benefits for services rendered.
Patient Services
The Patient Services Manager is a source of information and can channel patient queries about hospital services to the appropriate departments.
Responsible for drugs in a hospital, including purchasing, supply, and distribution.
Physiotherapists work through physical therapies such as exercise, massage, and manipulation of bones, joints and muscle tissues.
Purchasing & Supplies
Purchasing & Supplies Department is responsible for the procurement function of the hospital.
The branch or specialty of medicine that deals with the study and application of imaging technology like x-ray and radiation to diagnosing and treating disease. The Department of Radiology is a highly specialized, full-service department that strives to meet all patient and clinician needs in diagnostic imaging and image-guided therapies.
Also called radiation therapy, is the treatment of cancer and other diseases with ionizing radiation.
Provides facilities for peritoneal dialysis. It helps facilitate home Hemodialysis.
Rheumatologists care for and treat patients for musculoskeletal disorders such as bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles, and nerves.
Sexual Health
Also known as genitourinary medicine - Provides advice, testing, and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, family planning care, pregnancy testing and advice, care and support for sexual and genital problems.
Social Work
Clinical social workers help patients and their families deal with the broad range of psychosocial issues and stresses related to coping with illness and maintaining health. Social workers, resource specialists, and advocates form a network that addresses families' challenges, increases access to health care and other human services and serves as a bridge between the hospital setting and a patient's family life, home, and community.
The urology department is run by consultant urology surgeons and investigates areas linked to kidney and bladder conditions.

📢 Discover Related Topics

👍 Share This Information To:
𝕏.com Facebook Reddit

Page Information, Citing and Disclaimer

Disabled World is an independent disability community founded in 2004 to provide disability news and information to people with disabilities, seniors, their family and/or carers. You can connect with us on social media such as and our Facebook page.

Cite This Page (APA): Langtree, I. C. (2013, March 6). Hospital Departments List and Section Definitions. Disabled World. Retrieved April 16, 2024 from

Permalink: <a href="">Hospital Departments List and Section Definitions</a>: Definitions and descriptions of the most common hospital departments and the services provided by each section.

Disabled World provides general information only. Materials presented are never meant to substitute for qualified professional medical care. Any 3rd party offering or advertising does not constitute an endorsement.