What exactly is a hospitalist?

A hospitalist is a specialist in the field of internal medicine or family medicine who cares only for hospitalized patients. Think of the hospitalist as your general physician/primary care physician who practices solely within the hospital setting and whose expertise is working with the sick and hospitalized patient.

While your hospitalist is caring for you, they have no outside clinic obligations and devote their full attention to your hospital care. Hospitalists communicate regularly with your primary care doctor about your condition. All hospitalists maintain American Board of Medical Specialties certification to practice internal medicine or family medicine.

What should I expect from my hospitalists?

You can expect the very best medical care, delivered with kindness and compassion. Your hospitalist will see you at least once a day, and will also coordinate any care recommended by specialists. Your hospitalist will keep you and your family informed about test results and your overall progress.

Who are all of the doctors that I’m seeing in the hospital? Which one is in charge?

To receive the best care while you are in the hospital, you may see several doctors. The hospitalist is your “attending physician” and in charge of your care. Because there are several hospitalists working at each hospital, you may see a different face depending on the day or shift, but your care will be consistent.

Other doctors may be part of your care team as well. Sometimes specialists consult on certain conditions or run tests. Your hospitalist will coordinate your care within the hospital and help transition your care to your primary care physician.

What if I have a question for my doctor about my hospital care?

Ask the doctor when he or she visits you. If you would like to ask sooner, you can ask the nurse to contact one of the doctors on your care team. They can arrange a meeting or have the hospitalist come as soon as possible.

How will my primary care doctor know that I’m in the hospital?

Your primary doctor will be notified when you are admitted to the hospital and if there is any significant change in your condition. When you go home from the hospital, your primary doctor will receive a summary of your diagnoses, test results and medications.

What is a nocturnist?

A nocturnist is a physician-hospitalist that works primarily in the evenings. Nocturnists are present to provide overnight coverage for patients. When there is a change in your condition, nursing staff will alert the nocturnist to address the problems. Nocturnists are also present overnight to admit patients to the hospital from the emergency department. If you were admitted to the hospital after 7 PM, your admission was most likely done by a nocturnist and your care will be handed off to another physician working during the day.