An outpatient clinic, also known as a primary care centre, is the building or structure that contains the core healthcare unit.

This core unit comprises a general practitioner, nursing staff, paediatrician and administrative personnel. These are the basic components of an outpatient clinic, although it is increasingly normal for these primary care centres to house other professional personnel such as social workers, midwives, dentists, psychologists, psychiatrists and rheumatologists. 

Outpatients clinics offer healthcare services in what is known as the basic area of healthcare. This is where the primary care team operates. This area covers the healthcare needs of a population of no less than 5,000 and no more than 25,000 people, where between 15,000 and 20,000 is the optimum range for a primary care centre to provide services to. The outpatient clinic must be accessible from all parts of the healthcare area so as to be able to offer a continuous healthcare service.

Structure of an outpatients clinic

The general structure of an outpatient clinic usually includes an administration area with a section reserved for administrative staff, and an adjacent area with a counter where patients are received and people can book appointments and obtain information, primary care consultation rooms with a general practitioner, consultation rooms equipped with nursing staff and an area for taking and storing samples(blood, urine, etc.).

Outpatients clinics also generally include an area reserved for emergencies that contains the equipment needed to deal with these types of cases such as electrocardiographs, oxygen therapy equipment, a defibrillator, a trolley with specific medication for emergencies and all the other items needed to properly treat emergency patients.

Outpatients clinics are open in the mornings, while afternoons are reserved for emergencies, procedures that require a nurse and minor administrative processes, as far fewer professional staff will be working at this time.

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