Harvard Women's Health Watch

When your care involves a hospitalist

Hospital stays can be full of surprises. One might be the doctor who shows up in place of your personal physician.

When Lydia Markham (not her real name) was admitted to the hospital one night with chest pains, she expected her primary care doctor to come by in the morning. Instead, she got a visit from a hospitalist — a physician who manages your care in the hospital, then transfers responsibility back to your personal physician when the hospital stay is over. Though surprised, Lydia was not upset because the hospitalist was attentive and assured her that he was in close contact with her doctor. Her chest pains turned out to be nothing serious, and she was out of the hospital within 24 hours. But had she been critically ill or facing a longer stay, Lydia says she's not sure how she would have felt about having her care turned over to someone she didn't know.

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