Who is that doctor that keeps coming into your family member’s hospital room at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital, Carilion New River Valley Medical Center, Lewis Gale Medical Center, or dozens of other hospitals in western Virginia? Well, he or she is a “hospitalist” – a physician who specializes in the practice of hospital medicine. Clear as mud.
In theory, a hospitalist is a physician with experience in general or family medicine, or possibly internal medicine. The hospitalist does not have an office outside of the hospital and is paid by the hospital to care for potentilly any patient in the hospital including geriatric and pediatric patients, surgical patients, intensive care patients, and the list goes on.
The problem is that hospitalists are not specifically regulated and there is no board certification process for this type of health care provider. In my experience, these doctors are required to follow too many patients and as a result lack in-depth knowledge of a patient’s medical history and problems….they just do not have the time to provide good medical care.
My Take: The next time a hospitalist comes into your room, make sure he/she knows your medical history and current conditions, including medications. Force the hospitalist to take the time necessary to provide good (and maybe life saving) care.