Inpatient Vs Outpatient Treatment

August 5, 2022

When determining what type of care you need, it's important to understand the differences between inpatient and outpatient treatment. Dr. Ashish Bhatt, MD explains.


Dr. Bhatt: Hi, this is Dr. Bhatt, the medical content director at I want to take a brief moment from Straight Talk With The Doc to talk about a question that we often get, and that is, “what is the difference between inpatient rehabilitation treatment and outpatient rehabilitation treatment?” First of all, let’s define this and then you can choose the best treatment for you.

Inpatient treatment is basically when somebody gets admitted and is under the care of medical professionals or clinical professionals where they reside on sight. They eat, sleep, and receive their treatment both medications, assessments- clinical assessments, therapies, groups, all on campus at that actual medical treatment facility. This can constitute detoxification or residential treatment and often lasts anywhere from 7, 10, 20 days, a month, really depending on the medical needs of the patient. So, the determination although can be by the patient themselves, really should be determined and done by the medical professional who’s making the evaluation, and this will be determining the medical necessity of that patient.

Outpatient treatment, on the contrary, is when people can actually safely attend treatment or have other commitments while they’re staying at home or another type of supportive living environment. Usually this constitutes living outside of the treatment center, and going on a daily basis or multiple days during the week where the attend anywhere from a few hours a day staying up to half a day at the facility where they receive their groups, their therapies, and assessments. Now, in the end of the time you end up staying you hopefully will have the tools that are needed to end up getting to your level of functioning that is important for you and to address your commitments in your life. But, this should, again, be guided by a joint combination between the therapist or the medical doctor or the clinician, and the patient to determine when is the right time to leave treatment.

Often, people think that there’s a specific time frame that they have to complete this by and they give arbitrary numbers- 30, 60, 90 days. But this can vary. So, everybody has to be open minded and understanding that if you go either inpatient or outpatient treatment that ultimately it has to be determined appropriately for your discharge and completion of treatment, and that needs to be done with your medical professional.