Who Is In Charge At The Hospital?

Who’s in charge? Getting the attention of the right person can be difficult in a hospital.

Nurses do not report to doctors, but rather to nurse supervisors. Some hospitals employ “hospitalists” – doctors who act as a point person to conduct the flow of information. In the hospital, you will be faced with doctors and nurses who you don’t know and have never treated you. The new doctor and nurses are unfamiliar with your medical background, and you do not know who to turn to for answers.

Because of the confusion as to who is in charge, you should ask, “Who is the attending physician for me?” The term, “attending physician”, has special meaning in a hospital. The attending physician’s name is listed in bold print at the top of your medical chart and the attending physician is ultimately responsible for the care provided to you. In most cases, you can learn the name of your attending physician simply by looking at the top of the first page of your medical chart and if not, you should ask your nurse or the nurse supervisor, “Who is my attending physician?”

Once you have identified the name of your “attending physician”, you then know who you can turn to for answers. You should insist upon a face-to-face meeting with your attending physician and during the meeting, you should ask for the attending physician’s cell phone number in case you want to speak with him/her again. The attending physician will coordinate all of your treatment at the hospital and he/she is the person who you turn to for answers.

When you need answers from the person “in charge” of your care at the hospital, make sure you speak with your attending physician.