The Doctor Is ‘In’

A unique kind of physician is never far from patients during their hospital stay

 The word ‘hospitalist’ may be an unfamiliar one for patients, but this field of medicine has been growing steadily for over ten years. A hospitalist is a physician, usually trained in Internal Medicine, who specializes in the care of hospitalized patients.

When patients are too ill to be cared for in an outpatient setting, their primary care physician (PCP) will refer them to a hospitalist. Once a patient is admitted, the PCP will give the hospitalist the records and background needed to assist the person through a smooth hospital stay. The process is not unlike when a patient’s PCP refers him or her to a specialist.

“We are able to serve patients as either their admitting doctor or as a consultant if the patient is in the hospital under the care of a surgeon or subspecialist,” says Suzanne Anderson, MD, of Chatham Hospitalists, LLC. She believes her role as a hospitalist provides patients with several unique benefits.

“Hospitalists are working in the hospital all day long,” Dr. Anderson says. “We are available to see patients multiple times per day as their condition changes. We are available to speak with families in person when needed. We work closely with all staff to make sure your transition out of the hospital is well planned.”

Still, people may wonder why their PCP isn’t coming into the hospital to see them. The reason becomes clear, however, if those same people attempt to see their PCP in their office about a problem that can be solved on an outpatient basis. In the past, one of the reasons that primary care physicians weren’t as readily available in their own office was the time needed to see other patients in the hospital.

“We allow your primary care physician to remain in the office and be more available for you there, when you are not in the hospital,” Dr. Anderson explains.

As the word suggests, hospitalists know their hospital inside and out. They know every specialist and every department. They can follow up on tests and adjust a patient’s treatment based on the results. If a patient’s family has questions, the hospitalist can provide answers in person whenever possible. The ability to provide care in this way is what attracted Dr. Anderson to this field.

“I enjoy the opportunity to make an immediate impact on a patient's health.” 
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