200 Groton Road, Ayer, MA 01432 978-784-9000
Specializing in medical care of hospitalized patients, Hospitalists are doctors whose primary professional focus is the general medical care of hospitalized patients. Their activities may include patient care, teaching, research, and leadership related to hospital care. They specialize in the treatment and management of acute illnesses. In collaboration with a patient's primary care physician, hospitalists manage the patient through the continuum of hospital care, often seeing patients in the emergency departments, following them into the critical care unit, and organizing post-acute hospital care.
The hospitalists at the Nashoba Valley Medical Center are internists and family practitioners, having completed a three year residency in internal medicine. Some also have subspecialty training in fields such as pulmonary, critical care medicine, cardiology, nephrology or infectious diseases.
Since hospitalists practice on site in the hospital, they are present whenever the patient or family member has a question regarding care. Patients no longer need to wait until their physician makes rounds to get answers. Also, because they're located in the hospital, hospitalists know how to expedite and improve care within that environment. They are familiar with all of the key individuals in the hospital, including medical and surgery consultants, discharge planners, clergy and others. In addition, hospitalists can better facilitate connections with post-acute providers, such as home health care, skilled nursing care, specialized rehabilitation and others.
Hospitalists bring patients an expertise in the application and coordination of care for common acute disorders. Because of this unusually deep understanding of inpatient care, hospitalists are able to recognize and diagnose unusual disorders, anticipate problems and rapidly respond to crises or changes in a patient's condition. Hospitalists also have been shown to add value beyond patient care by taking a leadership role in quality and patient safety initiatives. Hospitalists help to reduce the widespread regional variation in clinical practices. Such variation has been proven to be a major contributor to medical errors in hospitals. Hospitalists also provide better continuity of care for the patient by improving the communication in "shift handoffs" between day and evening nursing, and by coordinating what is sometimes as many as 50 to 100 people who are involved in the care of a given patient.
Thanks to medical technology, more care is being delivered in the physician's office. Today, the average primary care physician has one or two hospitalized patients per week versus 10 to 12 patients 20 years ago. Working with a hospitalist provides primary care physicians with the ability to focus their attention on their office practices and to better refine these needed outpatient skills, while at the same time knowing that their in-hospital patients are receiving the best care possible from specialists trained in that field. This is particularly important because hospital patients today are more complex and more acutely ill than in the past. Because of this, hospital medicine requires a decidedly different skill set than outpatient medicine - a skill set that hospitalists are particularly experienced and competent to handle.