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Q&A: What is an observation patient?

| Healthy You

2 Healthcare providers with charts stand in the background, while a patient lays on a bed in the foreground

What does it mean if I'm an 'observation' patient?

When you enter the hospital from the emergency department or from your doctor’s office, you may be told you are an observation patient. This category of care was created by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

Observation status means you are an outpatient receiving tests or treatment despite staying in a hospital bed overnight. You are usually being observed for a symptom or complaint, such as chest pain, that may not have a definite diagnosis.

It is important to know that, as an observation patient, you may be responsible for a larger portion of the hospital bill than if you were admitted as an inpatient.

If a problem requiring active intervention is diagnosed, your status may be changed to inpatient during your hospital stay. If you have questions while in the hospital, please discuss them with your caregiver. For billing questions, call PeaceHealth Patient Financial Services at 800-873-8253.