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What is a Pediatric Hospitalist?

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  • Written By: Nat Robinson
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 28 November 2016
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A pediatric hospitalist is a doctor specializing in providing medical care to children in a hospital setting. Generally, a pediatric hospitalist is a pediatrician who has completed additional years of pediatric residency training. Pediatric intensivists are a special group of hospitalists, providing care to critically ill children. The outpatient responsibilities of this type of doctor can be limited, as many do not have offices outside of the hospital, although they do schedule follow-up care for the patients upon release.

Typically, any health condition which renders a child too sick to remain at home can be a reason to be cared for by a pediatric hospitalist. Follow-up care after a surgery is a common reason. Pneumonia and similar respiratory illnesses are also frequent causes of hospitalization in children. A child with a disease who has become unstable may also be admitted for supervised inpatient care. In some events, a child who has been seriously injured will need to recuperate under the care of this type of doctor.

There are many possible locations from which a pediatric hospitalist may work within a hospital. Many will generally be assigned to a floor designated for pediatric patients. Some hospitalists may prefer a fast-paced work environment and may opt to work in the emergency room department, solely caring for pediatric patients. Pediatric intensivists will generally work in an intensive care unit. Pediatricians specializing in neonatology may dedicate their services to newborn and premature babies.

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A hospitalist will generally perform many important tasks on a daily basis. One of the most essential parts of providing hospital care to sick children will be to prescribe medications. Pediatric hospitalists strive to treat diseases of children, for which outpatient remedies did not work. For this reason, a very keen knowledge of medications is necessary to perform this job. In many incidences, more than one medicine will be prescribed to successfully treat a disease or disorder.

In addition to prescribing medications, a hospitalist can perform medical procedures and order medical tests. Some common tests ordered for a hospitalized child can include blood tests and X-rays. A computed tomography (CT) scan and a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may also be done to provide detailed images of the inner structures of the body. Pediatric patients admitted for a heart condition may undergo a heart-specified test such as an electrocardiogram (EKG).

The role of a pediatric hospitalist can be vast. In addition to specializing in childhood diseases and treatments, the doctors can provide essential assistance to other health care professionals as well. This may include acting as a consultant to general pediatricians, surgeons and family practitioners. Having a child admitted to the hospital can be a very frightening experience for both the child and the parent. For this reason, good bedside manner toward the entire family is also important for a doctor in this position.

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