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What is a hospitalist?

Posted: October 24, 2018, 10:16AM

Some of our local hospitals are providing in-patient care by a hospitalist. Patients often do not understand how a hospitalist works in their continuum of care.  They are unsure of who is providing their care, and they think they are losing their primary care physician. 

Let's start with: What IS a hospitalist?  This term was first coined in 1996 by Robert Wachter and Lee Goldman in a 1996 New England Journal of Medicine.  The term has come to mean "physicians whose primary professional focus is the general medical care of hospitalized patients.  Their activities include patient care, teaching, research and leadership related to hospital medicine."  The hospitalist is a dedicated in-patient physician who works exclusively in a hospital.

Hospital medicine is organized around a place - the hospital - rather than a medical specialty (like cardiology) or a patient's age (like geriatrics).  The patient's primary care physician is still involved and the hospitalist works closely with the primary care physician gathering information when needed and providing updates, lab readings, patient status and needs, and discharge summaries.  You do not lose your primary care physician.

The practice of the hospitalist came about to help physicians who may start out with hospital rounds, go the office for appointments, get called out on an emergency, go back to the office to finish appointments, and then maybe back to the hospital or to a nursing home to see more patients. 

Hospitalists are being utilized in the hospital setting for several reasons, among them:  efficiency, patient safety, cost effectiveness for the hospitals and primary care physicians, availability and convenience.  These are all very positive steps in the continuity and efficiency of our medical care. 

It is also a good time to point out that we are our own best health care advocates, and we may need to be more forthcoming with information on our health.  This may also be a call for our families and other advocates to be more visible and more forthcoming with pertinent medical information to make sure our care is as comprehensive as possible.

[Sources:; Grove City Area Chamber Community Guide Vol VII 2017-2019;} 





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1387 National Road
Wheeling, WV 26003

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