What the heck is a hospitalist, anyhow?
Next time you are admitted to YNHH, you may be surprised to find that the physician taking care of you is a hospitalist, not your primary care doctor. Here’s why:
JENSA MORRIS, MD, YNHH HOSPITALIST specializing in internal medicine, came by to check on a patient who had recently undergone spine surgery. The patient was experiencing severe nausea—a common reaction to anesthesia.
Dr. Morris saw immediately that “this wasn’t your average post-op nausea.” She did a full evaluation and rushed the patient to the cardiac catheterization lab, where she was diagnosed with a damaged heart muscle, caused by the stress of the surgery. Within an hour, the patient was receiving the appropriate treatment.
Prompt intervention saves lives
If this had happened before YNHH implemented its Hospitalist Service about 15 years ago, the patient would probably have been treated for routine postoperative nausea until her primary care doctor arrived at the hospital to do rounds. And that might have been too late.
“Having a physician who is truly experienced in hospital, post-op medicine right there at the moment of the medical crisis was a huge advantage for this patient,” recalls Dr. Morris.
It used to be your internist or family physician who managed your case in the hospital. He would visit once a day, usually before a full day of treating patients in the office. But times have changed.
Today, inpatients are cared for, 24/7, by hospitalists—physicians who specialize in the care of patients in the hospital.
“In recent years, as more conditions are treated on an outpatient basis, patients who are hospitalized are more complex—the sickest of the sick,” says Dr. Morris. “The knowledge and skills required to take care of them are very different. Coordinating care with specialists, managing diagnostic testing— even doing the paperwork—is too much for a doctor to do remotely from her office or with a brief visit before office hours.”
And, as was the case for Dr. Morris’s patient with the postoperative nausea, having a highly experienced and skillful physician on-site at the moment of a crisis can mean the difference between life and death.
It’s better for family members too. They get more attention because their loved one’s doctor is there, on the floor, when families are there—instead of at 6:00 a.m.