In the past, when patients were admitted to the hospital,
their primary care physician would come to the hospital to check on them and
coordinate their care if they were treated by specialists or other healthcare professionals.
Today, however, many primary care doctors spend their time
only seeing patients in their office and entrust hospitalists to care for their
patients during a hospital stay. A hospitalist is a doctor who provides care
exclusively for patients in the hospital. Hospitalists do not have outpatient
practices, which means they can devote 100 percent of their time to caring for
If you or someone you know is hospitalized, it is important
to understand what a hospitalist does and what you can expect from their care.
Q. What is the role of a hospitalist?
A. The role of a
hospitalist is to provide direct care to patients and to coordinate and manage
a patient's care from admission to discharge.
A hospitalist looks at all aspects of a patient's care and is the leader
of the care team, which typically includes specialists, nurses, social workers,
case managers, and primary care physicians. At UMCP, the team may also include
medical residents and students from Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School,
as well as physician's assistants and nurse practitioners who specialize in
Q. What type of training do hospitalists have?
A. All hospitalists
at UMCP are board certified internal medicine doctors who have undergone the
same training as other internists, including medical school, residency training
and board certification examination. Board certification is a voluntary process
over and above medical licensure that demonstrates a physician's exceptional expertise in a particular specialty - in this case,
Q. What are the benefits of
having a hospitalist?
A. There are many benefits to having a hospitalist. With on-site
availability and lack of typical office time constraints, a hospitalist is
available to provide focused, face-to-face care 24 hours a day, seven days a
week, 365 days a year. In other words, they are there when you need them.Given that
hospitalists work in the hospital every day, they are familiar with UMCP's
protocols and processes, and have close working relationships with the nurses
and other staff, enabling them to provide high-quality care, effectively and
hospitalists look at the big picture.
While you may see multiple specialists during your stay, it is the job
of the hospitalist to evaluate various treatment recommendations, coordinate
testing and develop a plan of care that is right for youHospitalists
are available to answer questions, discuss test results and engage in family
discussions as needed. They also keep
current on the latest advances in hospital medicine.
Q. Will the hospitalist
communicate with my primary care physician?
A. Yes. If you are admitted
through the Emergency Department, the hospitalist will inform your primary care
physician when you are admitted to the hospital. If it is a planned admission,
your physician will request that a hospitalist care for you during your stay.
The hospitalist will let your physician know when you are discharged. When you
are admitted, the hospitalist will request your medical history and a list of
your current medications. Should any problems arise during your stay, your
primary care physician will be notified. Upon your discharge, the hospitalist
will provide your primary care physician a record of your hospital care and
your discharge plan so your primary care physician is ready to resume care.
Q. Can my primary care
physician attend to me when I am in the hospital?
A. If your primary care physician is on staff at UMCP, he or she
can attend to you. However, as an increasing number of hospitals have moved toward
using the services of hospitalist, many primary care physicians entrust the
care of their patients to the hospitalist.
. How does the hospitalist
work with any specialists I am currently seeing?
A. Often patients in the hospital have more than one health
problem, referred to as comorbidities in medical terms. In these instances, the goal of care is to
treat the primary diagnosis that led to the hospitalization, while ensuring the
other conditions are stable. It is the role of the hospitalist to communicate
with the specialists and coordinate the care.
Q. How do I know who my hospitalist is?
A. Most patient rooms at UMCP have a white board facing the bed.
After introducing themself, your hospitalist will write their name on the board
so you and your family members can see it at all times.
Q. Will my hospitalist
change during my stay?
A. Depending on the length of your stay, you could see more than
one hospitalist. Hospitalists work in
teams so when your main hospitalist is off duty, another hospitalist who is
familiar with your case will provide care. At UMCP, there is a hospitalist
available to treat patients at all times of the day and night.
Q. Will my hospitalist communicate with my
family if I want them to?
A. Yes. If you want to give your family member
access to your health and treatment information, you must first give your
hospitalist written permission. Your hospitalist will likely request one
point-of-contact - a spouse, child, sibling - who can disseminate information
to other family and loved ones. If you are unable to provide written permission
at the time of your hospitalization, your hospitalist will refer to any advance
directives you may have.
Q. When do hospitalists
typically make rounds?
A. While there is a hospitalist on duty at UMCP 24/7, your main
hospitalist may see you between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., though they typically make
rounds in the morning and see most patients before noon. Hospitalists are available as needed day or
night to answer questions, discuss test results and engage in family
Q. Who should I
contact if I have other questions?
A. If you have
any other questions about hospitalists, please contact Patient Relations at