The function of a hospital is to provide surgical and medical care to the sick or disabled, according to Dictionary.com. About.com also notes that the role of a hospital is to deliver babies when needed on behalf of families. A hospital has more equipment, resources and space than a doctor's office when treating very ill patients and is able to accommodate patients for overnight stays.
The roles of hospitals have not changed for over 2,500 years, back to the time when healers in Ancient Egypt set up temples to cure the sick and heal wounds, according to Wikipedia. The Enlightenment Age brought the advent of modern hospitals with trained personnel. Hospitals during the 19th century became more professional, adding administrative and management staff.
About.com discusses the different types of hospitals, such as for-profit and non-profit institutions. These hospitals serve different roles. A profit-based hospital is usually owned by a publicly-traded company and must pay revenue to shareholders. A non-profit hospital is usually funded by taxpayer or charitable dollars; these include academic, religious-based and military hospitals. According to the Medicare News Group, non-profit hospitals are also tax-exempt institutions that are considered charities, primarily acting to serve the needs of local communities, in accordance with government regulations.