The Role of the Medical Consultant


Medical consultation is an important clinical component for most hospitalists. Traditionally, consultants evaluated patients at the request of the referring physician (RP) and provided an assessment and recommendations. Today, hospitalists are also asked to provide both “curbside” advice and more comprehensive comanagement of medical problems. Hospitalists who are effective consultants communicate skillfully and act professionally. The following module describes the different roles that hospitalists can perform as medical consultants and provides strategies for improving communication and RP satisfaction.

To educate hospitalists about their evolving role as medical consultants and to improve patient care by improving the consultant’s ability to communicate with and understand the needs of the referring physicians.
Target Audience
This activity is designed for hospitalists. No prerequisites required.
Learning Objectives

After completing the module, the participant should be able to:

  1. Recognize why consult medicine is an important topic and describe how it has been traditionally performed.
  2. Compare the different responsibilities and expectations of the medical consultant when performing comanagement or curbside consultation.
  3. Assess strategies that may increase referring physician (RP) compliance with the consultant’s recommendations.
  4. Propose methods that promote more effective communication with RPs through verbal discussion.
  5. Formulate methods that promote more effective communication with RPs through written consultation reports.
  6. Propose professional behavior for medical consultants.

The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine takes responsibility for the content, quality, and scientific integrity of this CME activity.

CME Information
Accreditation Statement: The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

Credit Designation Statement: The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine designates this educational activity for a maximum of 2 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s). Physicians should only claim credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Release date: June 30, 2009. Expiration date: June 30, 2011.

Estimated time to complete activity: 2 hours
Faculty & Faculty Disclosures
Full Disclosure Policy Affecting CME Activities: As a provider accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), it is the policy of The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine to require the disclosure of the existence of any relevant financial interest or any other relationship a faculty member or a provider has with the manufacturer(s) of any commercial product(s) discussed in an educational presentation. The presenting faculty reported the following:

*Associate Clinical Professor, Division of Hospital Medicine, Director, Medicine Consultation Service and Comanagement with Neurosurgery Service, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California.

Assistant Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics, Johns Hopkins Hospitalists, Director, Comprehensive General Medicine Consult Service, Editor, Johns Hopkins Consultative Medicine Essentials for Hospitalists, Baltimore, Maryland.

Conflict of Interest: Dr Cheng and Dr Feldman report having no relevant financial or advisory relationships with corporate organizations related to this activity

Off-Label Product Discussion: All faculty have indicated that they have not referenced unlabeled or unapproved uses of drugs or devices.

Disclaimer: The opinions and recommendations expressed by faculty and other experts whose input is included in this program are their own. This enduring material is produced for educational purposes only. Use of The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine name implies review of educational format design and approach. Please review the complete prescribing information of specific drugs or combination of drugs, including indications, contraindications, warnings and adverse effects before administering pharmacologic therapy to patients.

Address correspondence to: Hugo Q. Cheng, MD, Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, Division of Hospital Medicine, University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine, UCSF Box 0131, San Francisco, CA 94143-0131. E-mail:
Click here to download the references for this educational activity.
The following is an interactive educational module designed to help you gauge your basic knowledge of the topic and then direct you to areas you may need to focus on. It consists of 3 sections: an unaccredited pre-test, a study activity, and a CME post-test. All 3 sections must be completed to receive CME credit.

Supported by an educational grant from Merck & Co., Inc.