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Your Doctor Doesn’t See You in the Hospital?

Suppose you go to the emergency room and need to be admitted. But your private doctor does not see patients in that (or any) hospital. In that case, the ER physician might admit you to a hospital specialist or a hospitalist. Hospitalists are medical providers who admit patients, round on them daily, and then discharge them back home or to a rehab facility if needed. Hospitalists focus on acute and potentially dangerous medical problems, such as severe pneumonia that requires IV antibiotics.

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Don’t be upset with your doctor. He didn’t abandon you. To make medicine safer and more efficient, doctors often divide and conquer. Hospital specialists keep up with the medical literature on acute, potentially serious medical problems, such as severe pneumonia, that needs to be treated with IV antibiotics. Primary care doctors keep up with the medical literature on primary care medicine, including the latest updates on preventive healthcare issues and many other things.

With the rapid proliferation of medical information, it is virtually impossible to be an expert in every area. So, many primary care doctors opt to turn their patients over to a hospitalist when they need to be admitted. Then, after they’re discharged, the patients return to their primary care doctor for follow-up care. Upon discharge, a discharge summary is dictated by the hospitalist and sent to your primary care doctor, so when you arrive, your doctor should know you’ve been in the hospital, know the tests that were done and their results, know the specialists you saw and their thoughts, and know what else needs to be done, if anything, to address the issue that took you to the hospital in the first place.

Originally Published on

Ann M. Hester, M.D. The Yes I Can Doc

Ann M. Hester, M.D. is a board-certified internist with over 25 years of experience caring for patients. She obtained her medical degree from the University of Tennessee in Memphis. Dr. Hester is passionate about empowering patients to take control of their healthcare. Her mission started in medical school when she witnessed a tremendous amount of unnecessary pain and suffering. Over the years, she has written various patient empowerment pieces online and through books. Her latest book is Patient Empowerment 101: More than a book, it’s an adventure! This unique work takes an unprecedented step in helping people think more like doctors do so they can position themselves right where they belong to be, at the center of their healthcare team.

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