If you are admitted to a hospital for serious medical treatment, the doctor who knows you best may never see you. Chances are your hospital care will be directed by a relatively new type of doctor called a hospitalist.
What are hospitalists, and do they endanger patient care in hospitals?
What is a Hospitalist?
It’s been estimated that today there are 50,000 hospitalists, making them the largest specialty group of internal medicine physicians. Their rise began about 20 years ago. Rather than focus on one type of medical condition, hospitalists are trained in how hospitals in general provide care. They know the ins-and-outs of their facility. They are usually employees of a hospital.
Proponents claim hospitalists can shorten hospital stays and limit the cost of treatment. But as their role in hospital hierarchy has grown, so too have the concerns over their effect on patient care.
Hospitalists are less familiar with patients’ medical history, emotional state and other pertinent personal challenges than primary care physicians. This lack of insight can prove detrimental.
The workloads on hospitalists may be dangerous. Their professional role requires them to see a great number of patients, which can harmfully reduce the amount of time they can spend with those in need of care.
Concerns for Hospital Patient Safety
A 2013 survey of hospitalists revealed their patient safety concerns with their heavy workloads, which included:
· Delayed hospital admissions
· Lack of time to fully discuss treatment options with patients and their families
· Worsened overall quality of care
The dependence on hospitalists can lead to communication errors between physicians that cause serious medical errors. A lack of communication between the hospitalist and a patient’s primary care physician can result in medication mistakes, for example. Without input from the primary care physician, a hospitalist may administer a drug that is actually harmful to a patient.
This lack of communication between hospitalist and primary care physician can also lead to harm following a patient’s discharge from the hospital. Needed follow-up visits may not be scheduled, or in-home care instructions may not be feasible, depending on a patient’s circumstance.
Hospitalists are typically well-trained. However, the structured system of care in today’s hospitals, which relies so heavily on one doctor, can often lead to negligent behavior and avoidable medical mistakes.
If you or a family member was a victim of a catastrophic medical error while in a hospital, an experienced medical malpractice attorney can investigate to determine who is responsible and hold them accountable.
The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertising.
Authored by Gray, Ritter & Graham, P.C., posted in Blog July 13, 2017