When you stay overnight at the hospital (in the UK, at hospital) for a period of time, for whatever reason, what do you call it?

A hospital stay?


Consider hospitalize ("to place in a hospital as a patient"). As in:

I was hospitalized for two days until the doctor discharged me.

  • 1
    Note: UK spelling yields hospitalise. – Zairja Sep 28 '12 at 19:52
  • If it were Oxford spelling would it still be hospitalise? Or hospitalize? – João Paulo Sep 29 '12 at 7:45
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    No, OUP prefers ize, but most of those in the UK who care about spelling don't follow them. – Colin Fine Sep 29 '12 at 12:28

Other options

I received five days of inpatient care.

My convalescence, in hospital, lasted five days.

(echoing @coleopterist)

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    +1 for in-patient. It is used by hospital staff here in the UK, as distinct from out-patient, to indicate an overnight stay. – 5arx Sep 28 '12 at 22:49

A hospital "stay" is very common. In healthcare, we refer to the number of days that a person is in the hospital as the "length of stay."

Another antiquated term is "convalescence," though one could convalesce at home. This is the sort of terminology my grandmother would use when writing a letter -- talking about how she went to visit some friend who was convalescing at the hospital. This refers more to recovery than any other part of a hospital stay -- for example, if you are admitted for a surgery, and then are transferred to a recovery ward, your stay in recovery would be described as "convalescing".

The act of actually entering the hospital as an inpatient and starting your stay is "admitting" or "admission". The act of leaving the hospital is "discharge."

It's important to note that these terms as I've described them are specific to the US healthcare system. British English -- or other forms of Commonwealth English -- may have other terms or phrases to describe similar things. (I work in US healthcare, so I cannot make any assertions as to how the British may or may not refer to things.)


I'd call it hospitalisation. Well, actually, no. After the event I'd say I've been in hospital.

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    Barrie, could you also say "I've been in the hospital?" – João Paulo Sep 28 '12 at 18:52
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    Not in British English, unless we really wanted to emphasise a particular hispital. – Barrie England Sep 28 '12 at 18:55
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    In British English, "I've been in hospital" means you were sick, and "I've been in the hospital" means you were in the building but probably not sick. If we had to distinguish these in American English, we might say "in the hospital" and "at the hospital". – Peter Shor Sep 28 '12 at 19:00
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    @Joao: No. I was saying that the US "in the hospital" = UK "in hospital". While the US "at the hospital" = UK "in the hospital". So when you say "staying overnight at the hospital" it sounds to me like you're staying there, but not because you're sick (although one of your friends might be). – Peter Shor Sep 28 '12 at 19:12
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    I don't think Peter Shor is incorrect, especially when encountering the phrases without context, but in my opinion (US), "I was in a car accident, so I am staying overnight at the hospital" is perfectly clear and unambiguous, and I would not find it even odd that one used "at" instead of "in." – horatio Sep 28 '12 at 19:21

The OP's choice of hospital stay appears to be widely in use.

There is also convalescence:

time spent recovering from an illness or medical treatment; recuperation:

a period of convalescence

As in the definition above, convalescence is more about the recovery than the stay itself. However, you can convalesce at hospitals and there are convalescent hospitals too.

  • Is "hospital stay" UK or US English? Or does it not matter. I like hospitalization though and I do have to agree with Carlos that convalescence maybe had at home. But I repped you in either case. – João Paulo Sep 28 '12 at 18:58
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    "Hospital stay" works fine in US English. – Peter Shor Sep 28 '12 at 19:01

An alternative that specifies admittance into hospital

"I was admitted to hospital for X days"

  • That brings up another nominal: "Hospital admissions are up this year." – Merk Sep 28 '12 at 20:03
  • well it depends on how specific you want to be, you could be in hospital for 5 days on a death vigil, or overnight while your partner is giving birth but not be receiving treatment – David McGowan Sep 28 '12 at 20:09

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