Definition of "Hospitalist" Added to Merriam-Webster Dictionary

According to the new edition, "hospitalist is a physician who specializes in treating hospitalized patients of other physicians in order to minimize the number of hospital visits by other physicians."

Somehow this definition does not imply much respect for the hospitalist...

The Springfield-based dictionary publisher has a list of 17 million entries it monitors. It takes about 10 years for a new word to get into the dictionary from the first time it is noticed.

The term "hospitalist" was first coined by Dr. Wachter in 1996 in the NEJM article The Emerging Role of "Hospitalists" in the American Health Care System.

Use of Hospitalists is on the Rise (NPR) but many people still do not know what a hospitalist is. One of them is CNN's Larry King who interviewed the head of Section of Hospital Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic:

"Dr Michota, Cleveland Clinic Foundartion: Well, actually I'm a hospitalist.

King: A what?

Dr Michota: A hospitalist.

King: A hospitalist?

Dr Michota: A hospitalist, yes.

King: What is that?

Dr Michota: It's a medical doctor who focuses on the general medical care of a hospitalized patient.

King: Have you ever heard of a hospitalist? I've never heard of that."

References:
Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary defines 18 new terms - USA Today
Wachter RM, Goldman L. The emerging role of "hospitalists" in the American health care system. N Engl J Med. 1996;335:514-7
Merriam-Websters Dictionary Officially Recognizes Hospitalists - Presbyterian Healthcare
Another Study Questions the Value of Hospitalists
CNN Larry King Live, Interview with Melanie Bloom, widow of NBC News correspondent David Bloom, aired March 9, 2005
The SHM 2005-2006 Survey: The Authoritative Source on the State of the Hospitalist Movement. Medscape.com.

Further reading:
Retired doc's thoughts and Musings of a Distractible Mind comment on the implications of switching to hospitalist care for inpatients.
Hospitality. Surgeonsblog, 09/2007.
Practicing cost-effective medicine. One clinician's top 10 tips. Robert M. ACP Hospitalist, 2007.
"You're a What? A Hospitalist" The Happy Hospitalist, 11/2007.
Adventures in Bizarro Land: My Don Imus Interview. Wachter's World, 12/2007.
Image source: sxc.hu

Updated: 12/04/2007

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