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Observation Medicine

Sometimes even the most extensive clinical experience and advanced technology do not yield definitive answers about your condition. In these cases, we rely on another crucial component of our diagnostic toolbox: time. By caring for you in our Observation Unit, we can determine whether the best course of action is to discharge you or admit you to the hospital as an inpatient.

A common reason for a stay in our Observation Unit is chest pain. If we cannot be certain right away whether your symptoms indicate a heart attack, we may keep you in this unit for observation, monitoring and therapy. Your stay will commonly be longer than the few hours that are typical of an emergency department visit, but less than 24 hours. Other conditions that can warrant observation include:

  • Asthma attacks
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Allergic reactions
  • Fainting
  • Uncontrolled hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Abdominal pain
  • Minor trauma/injuries
  • Infections requiring intravenous (IV) antibiotics

We care for you as long as you need treatment and release you as soon as you are ready to go home. Through our Observation Unit, we diagnose your condition with greater certainty while avoiding unnecessary hospital admissions. About 80 percent of patients cared for in observation units nationally, of these types, do not have to be admitted to the hospital. The result for you can be convenience and significant cost savings.

Providing high-quality healthcare means admitting you to the hospital when inpatient care is what you need and caring for you in other ways when it is not. In some cases, an initial evaluation in the emergency department is not enough to tell us whether you would benefit from staying in the hospital. Only 10 to 15 percent of emergency facilities throughout the country offer this unique service.

At Indiana University Health, we evaluate and treat your condition based on our extensive experience and a wide array of diagnostic and therapeutic technology.

Through our close relationship with the Indiana University School of Medicine Emergency Medicine Department, we conduct research to find more effective and efficient ways of caring for patients in the emergency department.

How We Can Help

How We Can Help

Observation Medicine Treatment Information

We offer a wide array of diagnostic, monitoring and treatment options in the Observation Unit based on your specific condition and needs. Examples include:


Observation Medicine Locations & Physicians

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Observation Medicine Support Services