What Does a Hospitalist do?

A hospitalist is a type of doctor who specializes in treating patients in a hospital setting. The term first appeared in the 1990s but is now a popular career path for students entering medical school. When a patient becomes sick and visits the emergency room, doctors on staff can determine whether to send the patient home, arrange for a primary care physician to meet with the patients later or admit the patient to the hospitals. Doctors working in the hospital will then care for that patient and perform other duties as needed too.

Act as a Primary Care Physician

There are several reasons why a patient’s primary care physician cannot care for that patient in the hospital, including the costs associated with that care and the hospital itself. That is why doctors working in the hospital will act as the primary care physicians for registered patients. They can request that nurses take vital signs every few hours, arrange for patients to through various tests and even begin treatment while the patient is still in the hospital. Treatments may include chemotherapy for a cancer patient and orthopedic surgery for a patient with a shattered ankle.

Meet with Loved Ones

The reasons why a patient may be hospitalized include preparing the patient for surgery, to monitor symptoms or because the patient requires supervised care. The loved ones of those patients likely have some questions and concerns, and a hospital doctor can help them understand why the patient is there and what happens next. This is especially important in cases where the patient may need 24/7 care or after a patient suffers from a serious medical condition like a heart attack. The doctor can give the patient’s loved ones all the information they need.

Consult with Other Doctors

A standard hospital may have dozens of doctors or more on staff on any day of the week. Those doctors specialize in different areas of care, including orthopedics, oncology and pediatrics. The hospitalist working in that hospital is responsible for meeting with other doctors to talk about treatment options and to ensure the best level of care for each patient. A patient suffering from both diabetes and heart disease may have two or more doctors overseeing his or her care to ensure that both diseases receive the right treatment and that the treatments will not affect each other.

Provide Followup Care

Another duty that hospital doctors have is followup care. If you ever spent time in the hospital before, you know that you didn’t just leave at the end of your stay with everything taken care of and your health at 100%. Hospital doctors provide patients with followup care to make sure that they do not suffer from similar problems in the future. After getting a cast for a broken leg, a patient will receive a referral to another doctor who can remove that cast later. Doctors can also provide patients with information that shows them how to care for themselves at home and when to see a doctor again.

Hospitals need doctors with general medical skills who can act as primary care physicians for patients admitted to that facility. A hospitalist is a type of general doctor who performs duties and tasks like providing patients with followup care and talking about their conditions with their loved ones.