The reach of Happy's blog is far and wide including learning the correct spouse etiquette in the hospital setting. I received this email from a reader a while back that I'd like to share:
Hi Happy, I wanted to let you know that you have a fan at Massachusetts General Hospital. My husband fell and hit his head a few weeks ago. He seemed fine after the fall. About 2 weeks after the fall, he started having weird symptoms with his balance so we went to the ED. He had a brain bleed and was transferred to Mass General. 2 surgeries later to drain the blood, he seems to be fine. He was in the neuro ICU for a few days after the surgeries. The first day a doc popped in and introduced himself as a Neuro Hospitalist. He went over who he was and what his responsibility was for my husband's care. I asked him if he was "Happy". He cracked up and said he reads your blog. We talked about your cute baby and dogs.
I loved having a hospitalist. If we didn't have him, I would have had to get to the hospital at 5 am if I wanted to speak to a doctor. Living 2 hours away made that difficult. The hospitalist was around all day. My husband said that there was another one that was around all night.
I didn't know that hospitalists could have specialties like Neuro. I appreciate that I knew what a hospitalist does via your blog. I also feel like I knew "patient's spouse etiquette" because of your blog. I kept myself together on the outside even though I was screaming and crying on the inside.
Now we just have to get through the recovery period without me killing him.
No. Thank you. It's letters like this that make my day. I hope their neuro-hospitalist, if they have been reading anything of substance at The Happy Hospitalist, provided you with a phenomenal AIDET experience to help get you through the anxiety of your husband's acute illness, but, more importantly, so that you gave them really high patient satisfaction scores.
More and more these days, many medical and surgical specialties are introducing their own hospitalist concept. In addition to neuro-hospitalists, OB-hospitalists and surgical-hospitalists are a growing trend. And to some degree, the "hospitalist" concept has already been introduced into many medical specialties already, where some doctors do a week at a time of exclusive hospital work before switching with their partners back into their outpatient clinical responsibilities.
This is why, if you are admitted to a hospital, you will rarely get to see your normal cardiologist or gastroenterologist or nephrologist, or even surgeon. It's because all the docs cross cover for each other these days. It's rare to be a patient that can see their own regular physician from start to finish. It just doesn't happen anymore. I'm sure, eventually, a dividing line will be made between exclusive inpatient and outpatient care. Medical care will be fragmented into only hospital or only outpatient care. Just give it time.
From a "patient's spouse etiquette" standpoint, morning hours are the best time to be present if you want to personally talk to the physician. The later in the day you arrive, the more likely you are to request to talk to a cross covering physician.
I can speak, from personal experience, cross covering doctors are available to "put out fires" and to address critical issues that may arise from time to time. We are not the right doctors to speak with if you want accurate information on the care plan of our loved one. Often times, the cross covering physician may not be in the hospital or may be too busy admitting ER patients to provide bedside consultation on cross covering patients.
While many hospitalist groups can provide 24 hour in hospital cross covering care, that care should be appropriately limited to acute care issues that require rapid bedside evaluation and the cross covering physician should not be involved in the day to day housekeeping issues and family discussions that should happen during routine daily hospital rounds. Hope all is well with your husband..