What does “observation” mean?

Observation status means that patients are in the hospital for a short period so physicians can have more time and information before determining what the next steps of care should be. Although your child may be in a hospital bed overnight, observation is considered an outpatient service.

What will take place during an observation stay?

Observation is used to complete testing, treatments, and monitoring of symptoms so that your doctor can decide whether your child is well enough to go home or needs to be admitted to the hospital as an inpatient.

How long will my child's observation stay last?

A decision is usually made whether to admit or discharge within 24 hours. If your doctor does not feel your child is ready to go home, your observation stay may be extended to ensure a safe discharge.

How do doctors decide to have a child stay on observation status?

The decision to place a patient on observation status is based on the child’s condition and the testing, treatment, or close monitoring needed. Observation is used for patients with less severe problems who typically need a one-night stay in the hospital. Patients with more serious health issues are admitted as inpatients.

Will my bill be different for an observation stay?

Observation is an outpatient service so outpatient co-pays, co-insurance, and deductibles apply, depending upon your insurance. We encourage you to contact your health insurance plan for information on what those specific charges might be. As always, if you have questions about your bill from CHKD after it arrives, please call Financial Services at (757) 668-8931 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and at (757) 668-7682 from 5 to 9 p.m.

An important note about follow-up care:

Your child’s doctor may recommend additional testing or treatment at your pediatrician's, specialist's or surgeon's office after discharge. It is very important that you follow these instructions. Be sure to bring a list of all of your child’s medicines with you as well as copies of any papers you were given at the hospital.