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My 83-year old mother is going to have a total hip replacement next week. Her regular doctor won't take care of her in the hospital afterwards. Her surgeon won't be there either. Now they have someone called a "hospitalist." What does that mean?

Hospital care and post-operative care requires unique and advanced skills. Primary care doctors are stretched trying to see patients in the office while taking care of their hospitalized patients. Surgeons are skilled in surgical technique but look to other specialists to help with medical problems.

Thus, a new specialty has been born: the hospitalist. This doctor works with all patients who are hospitalized for any reason. Early studies show that hospital death rates drop when patients receive special pre- and post-operative care by an internal medicine specialist. This led to the hiring of a doctor skilled in problems typical of patients in hospitals.

One of the best things about having a hospitalist is the ability to respond quickly to changes in the patient's medical status. Sometimes patients are unhappy being given to a new doctor during a very stressful time. If prepared in advanced about what to expect, most patients and their families quickly see the benefits.

The idea has been used in other countries for a while. The United States is just starting to try this idea. If you would like to read more about it go to:


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