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Patient in a hospital bed waiting for her doctor. She'll have a long wait.

Patient in a hospital bed waiting for her doctor. She’ll have a long wait.

“I Want My Doctor!”

Something happened recently that made me want to scream, “I Want My Doctor!” Today I had an appointment with my Veteran’s Administration doctor. He’s a fine doctor, very thorough with his examinations and easy going and friendly with patients. Even the nurses he works with and the young doctors he trains at the VA all have good things to say about him. I trust him, he’s always told me the straight scoop about my ailments, doesn’t whitewash anything. I like that he speaks to me as an intelligent being, instead of talking “down” to me. So we have a great relationship, both of us working for my health.

Emergency Room

Many of us enter hospital through the Emergency Room

Modern Medicine Changed

Before I began going to the VA I was hospitalized a few years back in a civilian hospital. I didn’t know it but I was to experience something totally different from previous times, since it was my first hospitalization in years. I realized from that hospitalization that modern day medicine is greatly changed. The day I went to my doctor because of experiencing breathing distress, my doctor took one look at me and knew what to do, he sent me to the hospital emergency room. Of course, he had all my records, was responsible for my care and knew all about me, so you would think he would have been my doctor at the hospital. I didn’t see him once during my time there and it wasn’t because he was neglectful. There’s a new way medicine is performed these days.  The current procedure prevents my doctor from being the attending physician. Instead, a “Hospitalist” visited me. If I’m lucky, I might see the same one twice or three times, but it could just as well be a different person each day. And even though each of them had access to my records, it was obvious that they never bothered to read them. I’m sure with so many patients to see each day, they couldn’t possibly devote that much time to reading records.

Principles and Practice of Hospital Medicine

Waking To A Strange Person

I was almost unconscious the day I was taken into the hospital by ambulance. When I managed to awaken for a moment,  there was a strange person looming over me telling me he was my “Hospitalist.” I had no idea what that meant, and I was so sick I didn’t care. So many people came in and out with various titles, I couldn’t worry about it, I just wanted my doctor and to be left alone until then. Since then I’ve discovered most of these “Hospitalists” may be in various stages of training to be a doctor or have recently received their diploma. Many have no bedside manner and are in a hurry because they have so many patients to see before their day ends. They come in, give a short, quickly-gone smile on arriving and say “Ms. What’syourface, I’m Doctor Whoknowswho. Tell me why you’re here.” When you’re really sick, as I was, having trouble breathing, unable to sit up, going through the same list of symptoms every day is sheer agony. The meeting lasts only a few minutes, with the “Hospitalist” reassuring you that everything will be done to take care of you, but still, the next day, someone else may appear, and the same scenario begins all over again.

Why doesn't the Hospitalist read your records?

Why doesn’t the Hospitalist
read your records?

My Family Was Told I Am Dying

I came close to dying, being admitted three different times to the hospital in a single month. Even with all the tests, it took a while for them to discover that I had bacterial pneumonia in both lungs. With my emphysema/COPD complicating matters, I came very close to experiencing my last day on earth. My family were called into the hall and told to be ready for my demise. But did I have the doctor I had gone to for years to see me through this cruel siege? I most certainly did not. I only had a robotic-like “Hospitalist,” who knew nothing about me.

The Hospitalist Manual

“When Do I See MY Doctor?”

As soon as I was able, I asked when I would see the doctor, and mentioned that I hadn’t seen him yet. They told me you’ll see him today, you’ve seen a doctor every day you’ve been here. Of course they smiled pityingly at me as they said this because they thought I was a bit goofy, since I’m old and sick. Gathering my strength I asked, “Yes, but when do I see MY doctor,” and they patiently explained to me that a “Hospitalist” makes the rounds, not my doctor. I managed one word “Why?” Their answer was  “Your physician will not come to see you, it’s different now. This system is more efficient.” When I asked “More efficient for whom?” they simply smiled and told me not to worry. After all, I was an old lady, probably on her death bed, so soothing me was more important than answering my question.

Hospitalists’ Guide to the Care of Older Patients

Maybe The Veteran’s Administration Is Different?

I survived those three hospitalizations, and it took about six months for me to get on my feet again. At the present time, I no longer see civilian doctors, but since I am a veteran, I now see those at the Veteran’s Administration, so I thought perhaps it would be different. But my doctor, with whom I have developed a bond and trust, sent me to the VA Hospital emergency room a few weeks back, and guess what? He can’t come there to treat me, he has to use a “Hospitalist,” too.

So, You Want to Be a Physician: Getting an Edge in your Pursuit of the Challenging Dream of Becoming a Medical Professional

How Did This Happen?

How did this happen that we no longer have access to our own doctor when we are hospitalized? Who dreamed up this new system and can we change it back to our own doctor? Even more to the point, WHY did it happen? Actually it comes back to us and our world. Not only is it considered more efficient for the caregivers and more cost-effective, but most doctors  like it too. In our lawsuit happy world, they don’t have to carry such huge insurance policies covering them for malpractice. The hospital itself provides for that possibility and keeps a phalanx of lawyers retained for the purpose of fighting any suit brought against them. I feel it’s a sad commentary on our times, when the doctor who has helped us through so many ailments, is not allowed to attend us when we are sick enough to be hospitalized. How sad that strangers we do not know, may be the last people to attend us as we die.

Please tell me in a comment which of the following best suits you and why it does.

  • Hospitalists are fine for treating me when I’m in hospital.
  • Hospitalists should not be treating me when I’m in hospital.
  • I want my doctor!
  • I don’t care either way.