Definition of a Hospitalist: A hospital-based general physician. Hospitalists assume the care of hospitalized patients in the place of patients' primary care physicians.
If you are admitted to our hospital, your care may be under the direction of a hospitalist. A hospitalist is a specialist that you have been referred to by your primary care physician for your hospital stay. You can think of them just like any other specialist you might see (cardiologist, urologist, orthopedist).
So, why isn't your primary care physician seeing you while you are in the hospital?
The reason is, hospitalists are doctors that specialize in the care of patients in the hospital. This is a national trend that began about a decade ago and has evolved due to the need for more specialized and coordinated care for hospitalized patients.
Most hospitalists are board-certified internists (internal medicine physicians) who have undergone the same training as other internal medicine doctors including medical school, residency training, and board certification examination. Some hospitalist physicians are family medical doctors or medical subspecialists who have opted to do hospitalist work such as, intensive care doctors, lung doctors (pulmonologists), or kidney doctors (nephrologists).
Advantages to Hospitalist
There are many advantages to using hospitalists. The biggest advantage is that hospitalists have added expertise in caring for complicated illnesses and diseases. Other advantages are that they are more available to: meet with family members; track test results; order necessary follow-up tests; respond to nurses' questions; and act quickly should a problem arise.
If necessary, hospitalists may see a patient more than once a day to assure that care is going according to plan, and explain test findings to patients and family members.
The hospitalists also organize communication between other doctors who may be involved in your care plans. This is not only a great asset to you but gives your primary doctor confidence that you are receiving care that is focused on your medical needs.
Be assured that with today's electronic medical records, your personal physician has full access to the details of your hospital care (tests, procedures, results, medications, and medical plan). The hospitalist and your primary care physician will also talk as necessary throughout your hospital stay.
So the next time you or someone you know are admitted to the hospital, do not be concerned that your primary care doctor will not be providing care in the hospital. Rest assured that the hospitalist taking care of you is well qualified and has the trust and confidence of your personal physician.
As you are discharged from your hospital stay, you will receive specific discharge instructions to guide your continuing recovery. Don't, however, hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.
Thank you for allowing us to serve you. Be assured that the Grady Memorial Hospital staff is focused on the quality of your care, your personal safety and your satisfaction.
Dr. T.W. Essex, DO, Medical Director of Hospitalist Program