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What is a Hospitalist and Hospital Medicine?

Hospital medicine: A medical specialty dedicated to the delivery of comprehensive medical care to hospitalized patients.

Practitioners of hospital medicine include physicians ("hospitalists") and non-physician providers who engage in clinical care, teaching, research, or leadership in the field of general hospital medicine.

In addition to their core expertise managing the clinical problems of acutely ill, hospitalized patients, hospital medicine practitioners work to enhance the performance of hospitals and healthcare systems by:

  • Prompt and complete attention to all patient care needs including diagnosis, treatment, and the performance of medical procedures
  • Employing quality and process improvement techniques
  • Collaboration, communication, and coordination with all physicians and healthcare personnel caring for hospitalized patients
  • Safe transitioning of patient care within the hospital, and from the hospital to the community, which may include oversight of care in post-acute care facilities.
  • Efficient use of hospital and healthcare resources

What Does It Mean to be Cared for by a Hospitalist?

Your primary care provider, or the emergency room doctor, will consult with the hospitalist when they think you may need admission to the hospital. After the decision is made that you would benefit from a hospital stay, you will be seen by the hospitalist.

The hospitalist will discuss your history, examine you, review and order any appropriate tests for your condition. Often, the hospitalist will discuss your case with other physicians, your primary care provider, surgeons, or other specialists. The hospitalists, who are in the hospital at all times, will continuously monitor your progress towards recovery. Your care team will include nurses, therapists and technicians under the direction of the hospitalists.

At San Luis Valley Health the majority of patients are cared for by the full-time hospitalist team, however some community physicians such as Valley-Wide Health Systems, still come in on the weekends.

Hospitalists often work closely with the surgeons to improve the care of surgical patients by managing their medical issues. For example, a patient with a broken hip may need surgical repair, but may also have medical problems such as heart failure or kidney disease that the hospitalist manages.

Hospitalists can often help patients get home faster by reducing their time in the hospital. Hospitalists also benefit primary care practices. Primary care providers are often able to spend more time in the clinic because they do not have to spend time racing over to the hospital. The use of hospitalists can often be a "win-win" situation for patients by getting better, more efficient, care in both the clinic and the hospital.

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