Q: Recently while in the hospital, I was treated by a doctor who was referred to as a hospitalist. Is this a new specialty, and if so, how will this type of doctor fit in with a person’s general care?
A: You might call this a specialty. A hospitalist is a doctor who specializes in the care of a patient who has been admitted to the hospital. A hospitalist most often is an internal-medicine or family-care doctor and generally focuses on caring for health conditions that are best treated in the hospital environment.
An example of a doctor who has a role like the hospitalist would be an emergency room doctor. An emergency room doctor, like a hospitalist, takes over from your primary-care doctor when you are in the emergency room and turns your care back to your primary-care doctor when you are discharged.
Hospitalists generally don’t have a practice outside the hospital, and their office usually is in the hospital, making them more accessible for answering questions from the patient and family members.
There are a variety of reasons why a primary-doctor refers patients to a hospitalist. The primary doctor may feel that the hospitalist’s familiarity with hospital procedures would be beneficial to the patient’s care. Time and distance also may be part of the reason. The primary doctor may have decided to spend more time on office-based care or may have patients in several hospitals, making it difficult to visit them all.
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When you are put in the care of any specialist, your records and history will be shared. So rest assured that the hospitalist will know your current condition, history and preferences.
The hospitalist will review your records, examine you and provide care, as well as coordinate all your needs while you are in the hospital. When you are discharged, those findings and treatment records will be shared with your primary-care physician.
As with everything else today, communication is the key to making things run smoothly. This arrangement is really no different from having your primary doctor refer you to any type of specialist for treatment. As long as communication takes place and records are exchanged, you will be in good hands.
If you have concerns about being turned over to a hospitalist, discuss this with your physician to determine what options you have.
Q: At the end of your column, you provide information on how to contact you. After your email address, you ask senders to include their telephone number. Why?
A: Most questions I receive are complex and need more than a general response. With a telephone number, I can call and ask more questions in order to help the reader. This eliminates the need to email back and forth, allows a timely response and is a warmer way of responding to the reader.
Thursday: 4:15 and 6 p.m., Conejo Valley Village community information meeting in the Marvin E. Smith Community Room of the Grant R. Brimhall Library, 1401 E. Janss Road in Thousand Oaks. Visit www.conejovalleyvillage.org for reservations.
Thursdays through Oct. 6: 1-2 p.m., “Acting for Amateurs” class designed for mature adults with little or no theater background, offering a lively, interactive approach to acting with neither memorization nor unassisted mobility required, at the Ventura Avenue Adult Center, 550 Ventura Ave. in Ventura. The six-week class fee is $50. Register by calling 658-4726 or visiting City Hall, Room 226.
Sept. 21: 1:30-3 p.m., “Pros and Cons in Decision Making” seminar at the Westlake Village Civic Center, 31200 E. Oak Crest Drive in Westlake Village. Call 495-6250 for information.
Sept. 23: 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., “Ready, Steady, Balance” forum sponsored by the Ventura County Elderly Fall Prevention Coalition at the Thousand Oaks Teen Center, 1375 E. Janss Road in Thousand Oaks.
Sept. 27: 5:30 p.m., Neighbors Together community meeting on a new concept for aging in place, sponsored by the Camarillo Council on Aging at the Camarillo Health Care District, 3639 E. Las Posas Road, Suite 117, in Camarillo.
Sept. 27: 5:30-7 p.m., Empowered Caregiver Series seminar, “Relieve Stress and Promote Wellness Through Meditation” at the Senior Concerns Day Care Center, 401 Hodencamp Road in Thousand Oaks. Call 497-0189 for reservations.