Your primary-care physician may ask that a hospitalist be in charge of your care while you are in the hospital. Hospitalists are doctors who specialize in the care of patients while in the hospital. Most often, hospitalists are general internal-medicine physicians or family doctors and frequently provide oversight to nurse practitioners and physicians in training. Hospitalists work closely with your personal doctor to coordinate your care and keep your personal doctor fully informed about your progress during your hospital stay.
What does a hospitalist do?
A hospitalist will see you every day to monitor your treatment while you are in the hospital. This doctor is readily available to answer questions and to discuss your care with you and your family.
If you are in the hospital for several days or longer, you may see more than one hospitalist. Each hospitalist that you meet will have reviewed your medical chart and discussed your care with the physician for whom he or she is covering so that your care plan proceeds smoothly. Some hospitalists are employed by ChristianaCare, others are affiliated with a private practice.
How does the hospitalist work with my primary care physician?
While you are in the hospital, the hospitalist cares for you and performs or coordinates other exams, tests and treatments. Your hospitalist will see you every day to direct your treatment while you are in the hospital and is available to answer questions and discuss your care with you and your family. Both when you are admitted, and then again when you leave the hospital, the hospitalist will send a detailed report of test results and treatment plans to your primary care physician so that he or she is fully aware of the care you received.
As you prepare to leave the hospital, the hospitalist will give you any instructions about home care and will prescribe any medications you may need, and then will return you to the care of your primary-care physician. In fact, your hospitalist will encourage you to call and schedule a follow-up appointment with your primary-care physician shortly after you get home.
While you won’t be scheduled to see the hospitalist again after you leave the hospital, you are welcome to call him or her if you have questions specific to your hospital stay.
Why is it beneficial for a hospitalist to be in charge of my care?
Unlike your primary-care physician, whose busy office schedule makes hospital visits fall often at inconvenient times, such as early in the morning or late in the evening, hospitalists are at the hospital throughout the day and are readily available to oversee your care throughout your stay. Hospitalists are able to immediately respond to any change in your condition. They are also available to answer questions and discuss issues with you and your designated family members.
By requesting the assistance of a hospitalist, your doctor is helping to ensure that you have a physician who is readily available to oversee your care while you are in the hospital. You will appreciate this partnership when you leave the hospital, as well, because your primary-care physician will have more time to dedicate to patients in the office.
What if I need a specialist while I’m in the hospital?
In some cases, consultations with other physicians are necessary, and your hospitalist will arrange for these. It’s important that you inform your hospitalist if you are or have been under the care of any other doctor in addition to your primary-care physician so that all available medical information can be reviewed.
What if my family has questions?
An important benefit of the hospitalist service is increased availability. Your hospitalist is on-site at the hospital throughout the day and is available to explain and respond in person to you and your designated family members. For non-emergency questions, the best time for you or your family to contact a hospitalist is between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. But during critical and stressful moments, a hospitalist is available at any hour to provide timely, honest and considerate answers to your questions.
It is best to appoint one member of your family to be a spokesperson. This helps the hospitalist know who is authorized to receive information about you and avoids the possibility of several family members calling the doctor with the same question.
How do I reach my hospitalist if I need something?
Ask your nurse to page your hospitalist if there is something you would like to discuss.
Can the hospitalist become my primary-care provider?
Hospitalists work full-time caring for patients who are in the hospital and do not see patients once they leave the hospital. If you do not have a primary-care provider, the hospitalist can help you choose one to meet your needs.
Are there specially trained hospitalists to see my child?
Yes. Pediatric hospitalists care for children in the hospital.