Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Hospital Definition:

A health care facility which offers medical treatment including, as may be necessary, board and lodging and necessary incidents such as nursing care or use of technical equipment.

In Hotel Dieu de Sherbrooke v. Caron, the court noted:

"The common understanding of what is hospitalization is that a hospital supplies board and lodging to those undergoing medical treatment, together with the required incidentals."

In Prince Albert v Co-operative Health Centre, Justice Sherstobitoff of the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal wrote:

"I am satisfied that in common and accepted parlance, which has existed so long as I have memory, a medical clinic is not a hospital. If I were to say to anyone that I was going to the hospital next week, the prospect that I was expressing an intention of going to a doctor's office, or even a medical clinic, would not even be considered.

"[T]he most basic component of a hospital (is) the element of overnight and continuous care and treatment. It is hard for me to visualize a hospital which does not include nursing and other treatment facilities available over an almost indefinite period, which services are available to patients of doctors of more than one clinic or office."

In Reserve Life Insurance Company v Mattocks, Justice Hathaway of the Court of Appeals of Arizona noted this definition of a hospital in an insurance policy:

"The word hospital whenever used in this policy means an institution which has a laboratory, X-ray equipment and an operating room where major surgical operations may be performed, and which maintains permanent and full time facilities for the care of overnight resident patients under the supervision of a licensed Doctor of Medicine or Osteopathy and which has a Graduate Registered Nurse always on duty."

In Francoeur, Justice Grotsky of the Saskatchewan Court of Queen's Bench:

"[A] hospital is primarily a service facility. It may also be appropriately referred to as a service institution. It serves (primarily) three groups: its patients; its doctors and the public. It furnishes a place where the patient, rich or poor, can be treated under what is normally considered to be ideal conditions. It makes available to its patients, rooms, special diets, X-ray, laboratory, surgical, and a multitude of other services and equipment which increasingly increase through the advances of research and medical science. Essential to the administration of the services and techniques employed in hospitals is the corps of highly trained nurses, student nurses, certified nursing assistants, technicians and others who are on duty for each of the twenty-four hours of each day.... As well, all hospitals, large or small, must have administrative personnel to ensure that its services function properly and are co-ordinated so that the patients are received, and cared for, regardless of the hour or the patient's condition. To ensure the proper functioning of hospitals nothing can be left to chance because an improperly functioning hospital may mean a life or lives. Such facilities are also available and ready to serve their community in times of epidemic or disaster."

A constant issue in health law is the determination of whether a community health clinic, or a nursing home, is a hospital.


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