AskDefine | Define clinic

Dictionary Definition



1 a medical establishment run by a group of medical specialists
2 meeting for diagnosis of problems and instruction or remedial work in a particular activity
3 a healthcare facility for outpatient care

User Contributed Dictionary




From κλίνη.


  1. A medical facility, such as a hospital, especially one for the treatment and diagnosis of outpatients.
  2. A group practice of several physicians.
  3. A meeting for the diagnosis of problems, or training, on a particular subject.
  4. A temporary office arranged on a regular basis to allow politicians to meet their constituents.


hospital etc
  • Croatian: klinika
  • Hebrew: מרפאה (mirpaa) (1)
  • Italian: clinica
  • Persian: (darmângâh')

Extensive Definition

A clinic or outpatient clinic are originally small private or public health facility that provide health care for ambulatory patients or clients in a community, in contrast to inpatients treated in a hospital. Some grow to be institutions as large as major hospitals, whilst retaining the name Clinic. General practice clinics are run by one or more general practitioners or practice managers. Physiotherapy clinics are usually operated by physiotherapists and psychology clinics by clinical psychologists, and so on for each health profession. Some clinics are operated in-house by employers, government organizations or hospitals and some clinical services are outsourced to private corporations, specialising in provision of health services. In China, for example, owners of those clinics do not have formal medical education. Health care in India, China, Russia and Africa is provided to vast rural areas by mobile health clinics or roadside dispensaries, some of which integrate traditional health practices. In India these traditional clinics provide ayurvedic medicine and unani herbal medical practice. In each of these countries traditional medicine tends to be an hereditary practice.
The function of clinics will differ from country to country. For instance, a local general practice run by a single general practitioner will provide primary health care and will usually be run as a for-profit business by the owner whereas a government specialist clinic may provide subsidized specialized health care.
Some clinics function as a place for people with injuries or illnesses to come and be seen by triage nurse or other health worker. In these clinics, the injury or illness may not be serious enough to warrant a visit to an emergency room, but the person can be moved to one if required. Treatment at these clinics is often less expensive than it would be at a casualty department. Also, unlike an ER these clinics are often not open on a 24 x 7 x 365 basis. They sometimes have access to diagnostic equipment such as X-ray machines, especially if the clinic is part of a larger facility. Doctors at such clinics can often refer patients to specialists if the need arises.


The word derives from the Greek klinein meaning to slope, lean or recline. Hence kline a couch or bed, klinikos sloping or reclining and to Latin clinicus . An early use of the word clinic was, 'one who receives baptism on a sick bed' . Psychoanalytic clinics traditionally have the patient reclining on a couch to undergo analysis.

Types of clinics

  • In the United States, a free clinic provides free or low cost health care for those without insurance.
  • A Retail Based Clinic is housed in supermarkets and similar retail outlets providing walk in health care, which may be staffed by nurse practitioners.
  • A general out-patient clinic is a clinic offering a community general diagnoses or treatments without an overnight stay.
  • A polyclinic is a clinic, hospital, or school where many diseases are treated and studied.
    • In the UK, the term is used to refer to very large clinics often formed by dissolving several existing GP clinics, and offering some social, complementary, and hospital services alongside the traditional ones. Although government-backed, such clinics have been found to offer poorer choice and worse access than traditional GP surgeries, and have been repeatedly publically opposed by doctors, health experts, and patients. It has been claimed that the government has been bringing pressure to bear on Primary Care Trusts to implement them despite this opposition.
    • In Russia, polyclinics were a feature of communist rule, but they were regarded as inefficient.
  • A fertility clinic aims to help those couples and individuals to become pregnant. An abortion clinic is a medical facility providing certain kinds of outpatient medical care, including abortion to women. Such clinics may be public medical centers or private medical practices.
  • A specialist clinic is a clinic with in-depth diagnosis or treatment on diseases of specific parts of the body. This type of clinic contrasts with general out-patient clinics, which deal with general diseases.

Examples of clinics


See also

clinic in German: Poliklinik
clinic in Spanish: Clínica
clinic in Japanese: 診療所
clinic in Norwegian: Vårdcentral
clinic in Russian: Амбулатория
clinic in Simple English: Clinic
clinic in Finnish: Terveyskeskus
clinic in Swedish: Vårdcentral
clinic in Chinese: 診所

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

VA hospital, X ray, asylum, base hospital, blood bank, charity ward, community hospital, consultation room, convalescent home, convalescent hospital, delivery room, dispensary, emergency, evacuation hospital, examining room, fever ward, field hospital, general hospital, home, hospital, hospital room, infirmary, inpatient clinic, intensive care, isolation, labor room, laboratory, maison de sante, maternity ward, mental hospital, nursery, nursing home, operating room, osteopathic hospital, outpatient clinic, pharmacy, policlinic, polyclinic, prison ward, private hospital, private room, proprietary hospital, public hospital, recovery room, rest home, sanatorium, semi-private room, sick bay, sickbed, sickroom, special hospital, station hospital, surgery, surgical hospital, teaching hospital, therapy, treatment room, veterans hospital, voluntary hospital, ward, well-baby clinic
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