Your Care Providers
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
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.
Catawba Valley Medical Center’s hospitalists are a team of internal
medicine physicians who serve as patients’ attending physicians
while they are hospitalized, but return them to the care of their family
physicians following discharge. These physicians complement the primary
care services of Catawba Valley Medical Group family medicine physicians
and our Catawba Valley Psychiatric Services practice.
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.