La Paz Regional employs hospitalists to provide inpatient care. Most hospitals now employ hospitalists, a physician specialty that devotes itself to care of patients in the hospital. They serve as the doctor of record for patients during the time they are in the hospital. While private doctors can admit and care for patients in the hospital, many are referring to hospitalists for inpatient care of their patients so they can concentrate on their office practice. And for patients without a local physician, hospitalists provide care and follow-up.
Hospitalists don't have a private practice. They most resemble emergency department physicians, radiologists and anesthesiologists because their practice is solely based at the hospital. They arrive for work in the morning, coming directly to the hospital. Since they have no clinic calling them, they devote their entire day to inpatients and their needs.
The ability to rapidly coordinate inpatient care and react in real time throughout the day to clinical data and changes in patient's medical status by full-time hospital based physicians has distinct advantages both in terms of quality of care and potential cost savings.
How does the hospitalist program work at La Paz Regional Hospital? A hospitalist will be onsite daily, ready to accept admissions from the Emergency Department or physician offices. When the Emergency physician determines that hospitalization is necessary, the hospitalist is called. He/she assumes patient responsibility, writes the admission orders and sees to the patient. This will be a boon for the patients and staff alike. Physicians in private practice have huge responsibilities to the patients in their office. It is very disappointing to read magazines in a physician office waiting for the doctor to return from an emergency at the hospital. Now local doctors will be able to concentrate on their office practice.
This doesn't mean that physicians in private practice will no longer admit patients to the hospital. But it will mean they will no longer be interrupted by a call from the emergency department.
Winter visitors and others without a local physician can be assured that when they get sick and need hospital care, they will be treated by a specialist who welcomes them and has the time to care for them.
Hospitalists have the potential to improve continuity of care; improve communication with families, nurses and specialists; become specialists in end-of-life care; develop protocols and information systems in hospital systems; and improve the lives of outpatient-based primary care physicians. By improving the day-to-day activities of all internists, hospitalists could actually help attract more physicians to general internal medicine.