A hospitalist is a physician who works exclusively within a hospital setting. Time constraints can make it difficult for the regular physician to get to the hospital and see his or her hospitalized patients. A hospitalist partners with patients' physicians to handle day-to-day medical care of the patients during their hospital stay. Hospitalist services include medical assessments, test ordering and evaluations, coordination of treatment, and communication with the patients' regular physicians.
Family physicians typically make the rounds of their hospitalized patients once a day or every other day. Test results coming in after the physician leaves the hospital are often left until the next day for evaluation. Hospitalist services provide an on-site physician capable of reading the results. The hospitalist communicates with the physician and orders any needed additional testing. This can reduce the length of time the patient remains hospitalized as well as speed the diagnosis process.
Coordination of patient care is also offered through hospitalist services. Whether the patient needs physical therapy, medical testing, or transportation to another facility, the hospitalist oversees the process. Much as a cardiologist specializes in heart care, a hospitalist specializes in the care of hospitalized patients. Daily interaction with other hospital staff members creates a foundation for excellent communication regarding patient care.
Patient discharge is another aspect of hospitalist services. Once the patient is stable and ready for discharge, the hospitalist transitions the patient back into the care of his or her regular physician. During the discharge process, the hospitalist is on site and able to answer patient questions. In addition, he or she is present to talk with the patient's family. Hospitalist services typically end once the patient's hospital discharge is complete.
In some cases, patients need to see the doctor more often than once a day. The hospitalist can stop by the patient's room as needed. In addition, if hospital staff members have questions about ordered tests or recommended procedures, the hospitalist is always nearby to ask.
Medication adjustments can be ordered by the hospitalist without waiting for the patient's regular physician to make the rounds. Rapid response to pain management and infection treatment helps ensure patient comfort. Dosage questions from nurses and family members can be addressed more quickly because the hospitalist is in the building.
Physicians typically alert the hospitalist when a patient is admitted. They share information about why the patient is there and what steps need to be taken during their stay. Hospitalists reduce the workload of regular physicians as well as provide medical care for the patients.