Understanding the Roles of Physicians Participating in Your Care
While you are a patient at Catawba Valley Medical Center, several physicians may participate in your care. The following descriptions may help you understand the roles and responsibilities of these physicians.
Attending Physician (may also be known as Admitting Physician)
The doctor who admitted you to the medical center. Attending physicians may be your primary care or family doctor, particularly if you have a medical illness. If your family doctor does not follow patients in the hospital, you may be admitted by one of the physicians of Catawba Valley Internal Medicine who serve as “hospitalists.” Or, if you are having a surgical procedure, your attending physician may be the surgeon who will perform the operation.
The attending physician is responsible for managing your treatment, including coordinating your plan of treatment by other consulting physicians. The attending physician completes the admission paperwork, orders tests, makes final treatment decisions and discharges you from the facility.
The attending physician caring for you may have practice partners who will also provide care to you. These partners act on behalf of your attending physician and make the same types of decisions that your attending physician would make.
Your attending physician may decide to ask another physician to participate in your care. This physician may examine you, may order or perform diagnostic tests and recommend a course of treatment to your attending physician. Your attending physician considers the recommendations of the consulting physician and makes the final decision.
Emergency Room Physician
The Emergency Department physician manages your care while you are a patient in the Emergency Room or until your doctor takes over your care there. When you are admitted, the Emergency Room physician transfers the responsibility for your care to the attending physician.
Primary Care or Family Physician
Your primary care physician or family physician is the doctor who follows you regularly, perhaps performs your annual physicals and treats you for illnesses that do not require admission to a hospital. Your primary care physician may admit you and is thus your attending physician if you are hospitalized. Or, your primary care physician may request that the hospitalist manage your care while you are admitted.
If you, for any reason, wish to change your attending physician while you are an inpatient at Catawba Valley Medical Center, you may request the change through the nurse caring for you. Before a change can be made, however, another physician must agree to serve as your attending physician. Your nurse can help you communicate and coordinate your wishes.