What is a hospitalist?

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A hospitalist is a physician who specializes in taking care of people in an acute hospital setting. Hospitalists are usually board certified in internal medicine and sometimes family practice medicine. The hospitalist specialty deals with taking care of people when they get admitted to the hospital. The hospitalist is the attending physician and primary caretaker starting from the person's admission day to discharge day. The hospitalist does anything the person needs, including getting consultants on board, getting therapy, a care manager or social worker.

Trinity Health is a Catholic health care organization that acts in accordance with the Catholic tradition and does not condone or support all practices covered in this site. In case of emergency call 911. This site is educational and not a substitute for professional medical advice, always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider.

A hospitalist is an internal medicine-trained doctor who only practices in the hospital. Hospitalist doctors don't have an office practice. They stay in the hospital throughout their careers to take care of you while you're in the hospital.

We're specifically trained to take care of people when they're critically ill. We are trained, as well, to coordinate care among the subspecialists. If you need surgery, many times you'll see a hospitalist in conjunction with your surgeon to make sure that the surgery is being performed under the safest possible circumstances based on your other medical illnesses.

People generally think of physicians as falling into two broad categories: those who provide primary care and specialists who focus on a particular organ system. But there is a new breed of specialist—a physician, typically trained in the more generalized fields of internal or family medicine, who is expert in caring for hospitalized patients.

Because hospitalists devote their time almost entirely to inpatient care, they tend to be more skilled at managing the acute conditions that get patients admitted to the hospital and better able to navigate the hospital system than physicians who spend the vast majority of their time in office-based practice. Because of this, major centers are increasingly relying on hospitalists to coordinate care for patients, in close communication with their primary physician, during the patient’s hospitalization.

Hospitalists are internal medicine physicians devoted to inpatient care. A hospitalist may supervise your care from admission through discharge, at which time your care reverts to your personal physician.

Having a hospitalist program means around-the-clock physician coverage to meet patients’ needs. The days of the primary care doctor getting calls at home to address inpatient issues are fading. Hospitalists can provide an immediate response and can improve communication with specialists, primary care doctors and others involved in a patient’s care. Most hospitalists work seven days in a row, which lowers the physician turnover for patients. Also, by working in the hospital all the time, they really know the nuances of the system. They can very efficiently move a patient through the hospital, whether it’s transferring patients to and from the ICU and the floor or helping with timely discharge.

The contents of this website are for informational purposes only and are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Nor does the contents of this website constitute the establishment of a physician patient or therapeutic relationship. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Dr. Kathleen Handal, MD
Emergency Medicine Specialist

Once a decision to admit you to the hospital is made, a hospitalist group of doctors will be taking care of you during your stay. Insurance companies contract with medical groups to provide in hospital care. They are assigned to work in the hospital and are very familiar with hospital procedures and services. Often internal medicine specialists, they will coordinate other specialists caring for you. When you are discharged, you will go back to being under the care of your primary care physician.

Your ER Survival Guide: What You Need To Know Before You Go (DocHandal's Guides Book 4)

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Your ER Survival Guide: What You Need To Know Before You Go (DocHandal's Guides Book 4)

Few people get through life without at least one trip to the emergency room (ER), either as a patient or support person for a family member or friend.  "Your ER Survival Guide" is the new title for "Doc's ER Survival Guide" it is for non medical persons! It is designed to help calm readers' fears by giving them the lowdown on how an ER operates. The book is written by Kathleen Handal, MD, an emergency physician with over 20 years experience. Handal is a nationally and internationally known emergency medicine physician who authored "The American Red Cross First Aid & Safety Handbook" and co-authored a series of medical textbooks. Included are ten simple steps to follow to get ready for an ER visit, as well as valuable insight into how an ER operates so readers can advocate for the best care possible. Complicated tests and terminology are explained in easy-to-understand terms.Doctors and nurses are making decisions in a fast-paced, stressful environment. Mistakes can and do happen. So the more people know about what to expect the less likely one of those mistakes will happen to them. Reading the book is like having Doc Handal at your side when you need her the most.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

The hospitalist. Sounds like a Sylvester Stallone movie. Actually, it's a term for a doctor who only works (guess where) in a hospital and is specially trained to care for patients who are sicker and require more treatment than those your primary care doctor sees in the office. Whenever you're in the hospital, there's a good chance you'll have one of these physicians caring for you, either as your full-time in-hospital doctor or covering for your primary doctor.

YOU: The Smart Patient: An Insider's Handbook for Getting the Best Treatment

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YOU: The Smart Patient: An Insider's Handbook for Getting the Best Treatment

Everyone needs to become a smart patient. In fact, in the worst cases, your life may even depend on it. Number one bestselling authors and doctors Michael Roizen and Mehmet Oz have written this indispensable handbook to help everyone to get the best health care possible -- by making everyone into their own medical detective.Witty, playful, at times offbeat, but always authoritative, You: The Smart Patient shows you how to become your own medical sleuth, tracing your medical family tree and wending your way through the pitfalls of any health care situation. Written in conjunction with the health care community's leading oversight group, The Joint Commission, the book shows readers in clear, easy steps how to take control of their own health care and deal with all matters that may come up when facing a medical case: from choosing the right doctor, hospital, and insurance company to navigating prescription drugs, specialists, treatment options, alternative medicine, pain management, or any problem that might arise.Accessible, humorous, and filled with information that you need, You: The Smart Patient is a book for every patient and all those dealing with a loved one's medical issues.
Dr. John J. Connolly
Healthcare Insurance & Policy Specialist

Hospitalists are physicians, typically employed by a medical group, that spend all their time in the hospital caring for patients who are hospitalized by members of the group. Some patients question this kind of coverage. They would like to have their own doctor visit them when hospitalized. Actually, a hospitalist may result in better care. They are there all the time, know the hospital routine and staff well and navigate partner physicians running in and out for quick visits. Although this medical field (it is not yet a recognized specialty or sub-specialty) is new, hospitalists may deliver better care.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.