Medical Minute: What is a hospitalist?

-A A +A
By The Staff

Since the initiation of the hospitalist program at Los Alamos Medical Center, I have often been asked, “What is a hospitalist?” As the lead hospitalist of the program, I would like to provide you with answers to the questions I hear most frequently.

What is a hospitalist?

A hospitalist is a well-trained specialist who deals specifically with inpatient hospital care. We make daily rounds and, most importantly, are available on an urgent basis should you have an emergency or a significant change in your condition. While you are under our care, we will be responsible for performing exams and ordering diagnostic tests and other treatments that are appropriate for your acute condition.

Why isn’t my regular doctor seeing me in the hospital?

Your primary care provider has given the hospitalist program permission to care for your medical needs while you are in the hospital. During your hospital stay, your primary care provider will be informed of your admission, condition and discharge and will be able to monitor your course of care. Once you leave the hospital, your primary care provider will resume your outpatient care.

How can my family and I communicate with thehospitalist?

We will meet with you at least once a day to discuss your condition, test results and course of treatment. This is the best time to ask any questions regarding your medical care. If you or your family members have questions after daily rounds have occurred, please inform your nurse, who can then contact us. Because of governmental regulations that protect your privacy, we must be very careful regarding having telephone conversations with family members without explicit permission from you. We will, however, do our very best to address your questions as quickly as possible.

What happens when I am discharged?

Your care after discharge from the hospital is just as important to us as the quality of care you receive while in the hospital. When you leave the hospital, your primary care provider will receive both a written and verbal summary of your hospital course, including test results and any prescribed changes in medical therapy. After your discharge, you will follow up with your primary care provider, and if you do not have a regular doctor, we can arrange for a visit with an LAMC medical staff member as deemed to be appropriate.

This week the hospitalist program, which includes Dr. Lenny Noronha, Dr. Tatiana Canning and myself, celebrates its first anniversary at LAMC. What this means to you as our patient is a service that provides a new level of coordinated, seamless inpatient care, as well as increased outpatient availability of your primary care provider on a day-to-day basis. We want to give you the best care possible and are very pleased to have the opportunity to care for you at our great hospital.

Dr. Sara Pasqualoni is the lead hospitalist at Los Alamos Medical Center.