My Father and Hospitalists

I have witnessed this phenomenon firsthand, two times. The first time was with my mother. The second time was with my father, who recently died two weeks after dealing with a hospitalist.

My mother had a bad reaction to a pain medication after surgery. Her trusted physician visited her and instructed all physicians to give her no more medications until the ill effects of the medicine had ceased. After he left the hospital, a hospitalist, having not one ounce of bedside manner, immediately usurped what her physician said and attempted to medicate her in a drastic way — one of the side effects being potential coma. I knew that this was against her doctor’s orders, and with great, exhausting difficulty, I prevented such a potentially lethal action from taking place. It was fortunate for my mother that I was there. Family members cannot always be at the hospital, often leaving dangerous gaps in communication.

The second time I dealt with a hospitalist, the results were deadly. My 79-year-old father had been plagued by many different ailments for many years, yet his team of personal physicians had successfully kept his medications in balance, his ailments contained — and him alive. This all changed when my father was admitted to the hospital -- simply for observation. I was not at the hospital when my father was admitted. The assigned “hospitalists” -- there were different hospitalists every day -- started playing Russian roulette with my father’s medications for no apparent reason. Trying to talk to one of his hospitalists was impossible, and one hospitalist didn’t know what the other hospitalist was doing -- which resulted in conflicting messages and careless care.

One of the hospitalists needlessly prescribed a very risky pain medication (especially risky for an elderly man with an extensive and complex medical history) for an ache that was nominal. None of his personal physicians, who knew of his benign aches, ever prescribed this medication because they knew the potential side effects were severe and potentially hazardous. The ends did not justify the means. Two weeks later my father was dead.

Beware of hospitalists. Though there are certainly well-intentioned hospitalists, they are nevertheless an arm of Obama“care” and a sign of things to come -- impersonal disregard and haphazard protocol. Patients need to be vigilantly aware of the consequences of having a hospitalist — who is often cavalier, overwhelmed, and not personably accountable in any way (the hospitalist will never see the patient again after the patient is discharged from the hospital). This impersonal way of practicing Obamacare can be deadly. It was for my father.