The Difference Between Inpatient and Outpatient

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There is a very different meaning to the terms “inpatient” and “outpatient” in the medical world. Understanding the difference between inpatient and outpatient care helps you decide what will work best for your care plan. Furthermore it helps you plan ahead for insurance coverage, out-of-pocket cost, time commitment, and living situation. This article reviews the difference between inpatient and outpatient care in order to help you make an informed decision about your addiction and mental health treatment.


What Is Inpatient Care?

In a strictly physical health setting inpatient care often equates to a hospital-like setting. In mental health and addiction care inpatient care can mean hospitals, detoxes, or residential treatment. No matter what the diagnosis is, inpatient care provides 24/7 care and supervision. Clients will live within the facility and all dining and sleeping accommodations are provided on property.

Inpatient treatment is normally necessary if an individual is severely struggling with addiction or mental health. In order to stabilize, people need round the clock medications, counseling, and supervision. Facilities will staff behavioral health technicians, counselors, case managers, doctors, and nurses in order to treat all aspects of the patients health. 

The amount of time a person stays in inpatient care is dependent on a variety of factors. If someone is attending detox they may only stay for 7 to 10 days. Alternatively, if someone is admitted to residential treatment their care may last anywhere from 30 days to 6 months. Every individual is unique. Therefore, there is no one size fits all treatment plan for addiction and mental health. 


What Is Outpatient Care?

Outpatient care is a type of treatment provided to individuals who do not live directly within a facility. Clients will travel to the facility from their own homes or affiliated housing in order to attend treatment. There are a number of different levels of care that fall under the outpatient criteria. 

The levels of care that are considered to be outpatient care include:

Partial Hospitalization Program: Partial hospitalization programs, also referred to as PHPs, are the highest form of outpatient care available. They provide a high level of supervision, but clients do not live on the campus of the facility. Clients in PHP attend treatment sessions every day of the week for the majority of the day. They often reside in supervised sober living or mental health housing while they attend the program. Clients attend group therapy, trauma therapy, and individual counseling sessions. They are provided with a case manager in order to help them with things like legal issues. Furthermore, they are able to meet with both doctors and psychiatrists.

Intensive Outpatient Program: Intensive outpatient programs, also referred to as IOPs, are a step down from PHPs. They provide a moderate level of supervision and clients will normally remain housed in affiliated sober living or mental health support homes. Clients attend the same therapies and medical appointments, but less frequently. IOP sessions normally run 3 to 5 days a week for a couple of hours. Intensive outpatient programs are also normally offered during either the morning or evening hours in order to accommodate the work schedules of clients.

Outpatient Programs: Outpatient programs, also referred to as OP, are the least supervised level of care. Clients attend the facility a few days a week for just an hour or two at a time. Clients normally attend group therapy and individual therapy. Medication management services are normally offered once a week for outpatient clients. Clients will either live in supportive housing, on their own, or with loved ones and family.

What Is The Difference Between Inpatient And Outpatient Treatment?

The main difference between inpatient and outpatient treatment is the housing and level of supervision. Outpatient care does not provide on campus housing. It also does not offer 24/7 supervision and care from therapeutic and medical staff. 

Inpatient treatment is normally suggested to individuals who need stabilization for their mental and physical health. For example, if someone is in a mental health crisis they are referred to an inpatient facility. Another example is if someone is physically dependent on a substance, they will normally be required to at least attend a detox program prior to entering into an outpatient program.

The best way to know what level of care is right for you or your loved one is to undergo a formal evaluation with a licensed professional in addiction and mental health. They will look at your previous treatment history, current status, family history, medications, and more in order to make the recommendation that will help you the most.


Treatment For Addiction And Mental Health In Fort Lauderdale, FL

Whether you are looking for inpatient or outpatient care, The Healing Center in Fort Lauderdale can help you. We provide a multitude of levels of care in order to give each client a personalized treatment experience. Our approach to mental health and addiction treatment is both evidence based and compassionate care. If you or a loved one is struggling with mental health or substance abuse, then give our admissions team a call. We can help you decide on the next steps to take to get you back to wellness.