• For Patients and Families

    When My Child Is Admitted to the Hospital, Who Will Help Us Make Medical Decisions?

    Admissions to hospitals are often frightening and confusing experiences, especially for families going through it for the first time. Parents keeping tabs on who is seeing and treating their child have to figure out the titles and roles of caregivers. And children may be afraid of being treated by a room full of strangers. It can be overwhelming.

    A common question from parents upon admission is whether their child’s usual doctor will be caring for them while they are in the hospital. In Cincinnati, as in much of the rest of the nation, the trend is toward using specially trained doctors called hospitalists, who are employed by the hospital to care for children when they are hospitalized.

    Many doctors’ offices elect to use the service of hospitalists for their patients and resume direct care once the patient is sent home from the hospital.  During the hospitalization, hospitalists work closely with the child’s regular doctor and the family to make the best medical decisions for the patient and to ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes time to transition care. 

    There are advantages with either approach.  It is important to discuss the approach your doctor’s office (or potential office, if selecting a new practice) uses when patients are hospitalized to avoid surprises later.  A better understanding of who’s who can make a big difference in making your stay at Cincinnati Children’s easier. 

  • A Few Terms to Know

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    Your usual, office-based doctor; a specialist in outpatient care; may also be known as a primary medical doctor (PMD)

    A hospital-based physician who primarily takes care of hospitalized children; usually the attending doctor who specializes in inpatient care

    The doctor “in charge” who leads the medical team making decisions with families

    A doctor who is still in training and works with attendings to care for patients; often the primary teacher for medical students

    A student training to be a doctor

    A nurse with advanced training who often works in hybrid roles; can often write prescriptions and works closely with physicians to make advanced medical decisions

    A bedside caregiver who works closest with patients and families to ensure they receive the medical care they need; administers medications and checks vital signs, among many other roles