Are patients refusing doctors who no longer do hospital work?

As the numbers of hospitalists increase, more primary care doctors are no longer doing hospital rounds.

Communication problems can arise from this, as discharge summaries and other hospital notes often are not transferred back to the outpatient physician in a timely manner, if at all. And indeed, some patients are unhappy with this trend, and prefer to choose doctors who both have an outpatient clinic and perform hospital duties.

As internist Robert Centor says, “Patients are smart. They understand the value of having a physician who knows them well.”

However, blame the current fiscal environment that influences physician behavior as a major reason why the hospitalist profession is thriving. It is likely that the doctor, or “comprehensivists” as Dr. Centor calls them, who does everything will be a distant memory, leaving patients little choice in the matter.