This is a new trend that many patients are finding confusing and unsettling. Their primary doctor no longer visits them at the hospital and does not manage their hospital care.
Hospitalists are specialists who provide care for patients admitted to primary care.
A hospitalist is a doctor who sees patients in a hospital. The hospitalist is responsible for the care of patients while they are in the hospital and will turn them over to their regular doctors when they are released. The hospitalist is responsible to make all decisions regarding the patient’s care while they are in hospital.
Hospitalists have many advantages
Hospitalists are often familiar with the hospital and its politics. This allows the hospitalist to “make things happen” faster than office-based doctors.
In an emergency, hospitalists can respond faster to your needs. Hospitalists are more likely to be reached by nurses and other support staff than office-based physicians, especially during the evenings and weekends.
It is more common to have continuity of care in a hospital. Primary care physicians who manage inpatient hospital care often see more patients than they do in larger practices. This is because doctors often alternate seeing the hospitalized patients.
Family members are often more likely to be able to access hospitalists. Family members don’t need to “catch up” with the doctor during the late hours of the night or when he/she is doing rounds in the hospital outside of normal office hours.
The disadvantages of using a hospitalist
The greatest disadvantage of the shift to hospitalists is the lack of continuity between primary care and hospital. The hospitalist does not have any prior knowledge about his patient. Communication between the primary care physician (primary care physician) and the hospitalist may be poor. The patient and his family will need to fill in the gaps.
The hospitalist will give care back to the PCP when a patient is discharged. The primary care physician may not know what the patient has experienced at the hospital if communication is poor. The patient’s records are often slow to be followed, so the office-based doctor might not have enough information on the initial visit.
The PCP often makes changes to treatment plans or prescribes medications that are not compatible with the hospital’s treatment plans.
How to Work with a Hospitalist
Prepare. Talk to your primary physician about the hospitalists at your hospital if you are going to the hospital. You should find out which hospitalist is most comfortable communicating with you and with whom your doctor prefers working. Ask your doctor to make arrangements for this hospitalist to take care of you while you are in hospital.
Be prepared: Don’t assume everything will work out. You might not feel well and be stressed. You may not feel well, and the hospitalist you choose might be away, ill, or unavailable. Bring a summary of your medical history and all results from any recent tests with you to the hospital. When possible, have someone accompany you to the hospital until your doctor has seen you and you have given all information. This person should take down the names and contact information of all hospital caregivers (phone and pager) and the locations of their offices within the hospital.
Sign a Release Form: When you are admitted, be sure to sign a waiver of information. This will allow the hospitalist and all other members of your medical team to discuss your care with you. It is a good idea to sign a permission for information release even if you have given the person your Powers of Attorney for Health Care. Your Power of Attorney for Health Care may not be applicable to you. You might find that staff members are less willing to share information with you if you don’t have the authority to do so.