Hospitalists are doctors who are stationed in the hospital and focus on the care of hospitalized patients. The vast majority of hospitalist are employed directly by the hospitals where they work. There are many types of physicians that can serve as hospitalists and they may specialize in specific areas of medicine such as internal medicine or pediatrics. Hospitalists may work in patient care, teaching, research, or leadership in hospitals. Many hospitalists work in emergency departments.
According to The Society of Hospital Medicine, there were about 44,000 practicing hospitalists in the US in 2014.
Maryland Medical Malpractice and Hospitalists
A major weakness of hospitalists is that they often begin caring for a patient without understanding the patient's full medical history and as well as the patient's primary care physicians. Once patients are admitted, hospitalists will need to contact the patient's primary care physician to learn more about the patient's complete medical history. Hospitalists will need this information in order to better understand the patient's current condition and to make an effective treatment plan.
Medical malpractice can also occur in the communication between a hospitalist and a patient's primary care physician. Hospitalists may perform a variety of tests on the patients, begin treatment plans, and prescribe medications, all without the knowledge of the patient's primary care physician.
Hospitalists need to communicate both with the patient and with the primary care physician about the patient's treatment plan after leaving the hospital and about any follow-up visits and care. When the two doctors fail to communicate important information about the patient's health, they expose the patient to a potentially harmful situation.
Anytime doctors work in a hospital setting, some decisions will need to be made quickly and extreme actions taken to save a patient's life and immediately improve the patient's health. Hospitalists must provide sound judgment and make decisions like any other reasonable doctor in their position in order to provide the standard of care to their patients.
Educational Requirements For Hospitalists In Maryland
Many hospitalists are trained as internal-medicine doctors, but choose to work in non-office practice. Hospitalists can also be trained as family doctors, anesthesiologists, critical care doctors, OB/GYNs, pulmonologists (lung doctors), or most any other type of doctor.
Hospitalists are required to complete medical school and receive either an MD (Medical Doctor) or DO (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine).
Hospitalist Licensing Requirements In Maryland
After completing medical school, MDs and DOs who want to become hospitalists will need to complete a residency program. Unlike other specialties, hospitalists can be trained in a variety of fields and do not always complete a “hospitalist” residency.
Hospitalists will need to be licensed by the state to practice medicine after completing a residency program. The licensing process varies in each state. Look up your specific state requirements to learn more. This license will allow the doctor to practice any type of medicine in the state, but does not show that the doctor has any specific specialty skills.
The American Board of Physician Specialties will award certification for training in specific areas of medicine. Board certification is voluntary for hospitalists, and it indicates a high level of proficiency in a specific area of medicine. Hospitalists do not need to be certified in “hospitalist medicine”. Physicians can instead become certified in other specialties like internal medicine or family medicine.
In 2009, the American Board of Physician Specialties created the American Board of Hospital Medicine, the first board of certification specifically for hospital medicine. Doctors can now choose to become board certified specifically as hospitalists.
Still over 75% of all hospitalists are trained in general internal medicine, about 9% received training in family practice, 6% in pediatrics, and about 9% in other medical disciplines.
Where Hospitalists Work
According to the American Society of Hospital Medicine, about half of all hospitalists are employed by hospitals and health systems. 30% of hospitalists are employed by multi-state management companies, 10% by universities and medical schools, 5% by private specialty or primary care groups, and 4% by private hospitalist-only groups.
The average salary of a hospitalist is about $258,020.
See this list of Maryland hospitals by county to discover different places where Hospitalists work in MD.
How Hospitalists Help People
Hospitalist is a relatively new specialization—first created in 1996—but the field is rapidly developing.
Unlike other doctors, hospitalists do not work out of offices or private practices. For hospitalists, the hospital is their office. This means that when hospitalists work in patient care they are familiar with the hospital setting and health care professionals who work in it. Since hospitalists work solely in hospitals, they are also more experienced than some other doctors at providing hospital-specific care.
Hospitalists can also be the main point of communication between a patient's primary care physicians and the hospital, and between many health care professionals at the hospital all working to treat one patient. The hospitalist will help create a unified comprehensive care plan for the patient. A hospitalist will review test results of a patient and adjust the patient's treatment plan.
Hospitalists also work to improve the quality of care offered at their hospital by implementing new protocols, updating old systems, and improving hospital-wide communication. Hospitalists may work to standardize procedures that need more structure, improve treatment routines, implement new systems to communicate about a patient's medication with a primary care physician, and generally optimize hospital protocols.
According to the Society of Hospital Medicine, clinical interests of hospitalists include:
- Inpatient & outpatient care
- Preventing complications
- Care transactions & coordination
- Medication reconciliation
- Reducing hospital acquired infections
- Systems & process improvement
Suing Hospitalists For Medical Malpractice In Maryland
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury that you suspect may be due to negligent care from a hospitalist, we can help you determine whether you have a case and help you understand your rights.
You have the right to expect medical professionals to operate within the required standard of care. If you suspect that your hospitalist acted negligently, you need an experienced medical malpractice attorney.