Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What exactly is a hospitalist?
A: Sometimes called an "inpatient physician," a hospitalist practices full time at a hospital rather than at a private office or clinic. Today, about 12,000 physicians in the United States are considered hospitalists - a number that's expected to double by the end of the decade.
Q: Why is my personal physician not seeing me?
A: There are several possibilities. First, your physician may not make inpatient calls. Your personal physician may have contacted a Billings Clinic hospitalist in order to ensure that your care is handled promptly and properly while you are a patient.
Q: Why is my specialist using a hospitalist as part of my care?
A: Many patients have other medical problems or require very close monitoring. We want to give you the most thorough care available.
Q: Can I use this doctor after I leave the hospital?
A: Because a hospitalist doesn't have an outpatient clinic, he or she is unable to see patients outside of the hospital setting. However, a hospitalist specializes in the transition of care, ensuring that you primary care physician is fully informed of your condition, or if necessary will refer you to a primary care physician.
Q: Will the hospitalist talk with my doctor?
A: When you're first admitted, a hospitalist may contact your primary care physician for laboratory results or studies from the past. (In an emergency, usually the Emergency Department will notify your physician.) Upon discharge, your hospitalist will either personally call your primary care physician or dictate a detailed note with special instruction about any follow-up therapy.
Q: Does a hospitalist receive special training?
A: Although there is no specific training or credentialing required to be a hospitalist, most physicians are board certified in internal medicine, and are interested in caring for acutely ill patients.
Q: Is my care any different because I'm using a hospitalist?
A: A hospitalist is physician who is solely focused on hospitalized patients. Between the team of hospitalists, a patient has 24-hour access to an onsite physician who's knowledgeable about his or her specific situation. Because of their unique work arrangement, hospitalists have a great deal of practical experience at the patient's bedside. Being at the hospital around the clock also means prompt, up-to-date answers for family members who may have questions about a patient's situation.
Early clinical studies have demonstrated that hospitalists can improve on complications, medication errors and mortality rates. Hospitalists are assisting in containing health care costs and focusing on patient safety initiatives that make your hospital stay a better experience.