University of South Florida

Dr. Charles Edwards coordinates interdisciplinary care for hospitalized patients [multimedia]

Closely huddled by attentive residents and students, USF physician Charles Edwards, MD, performs his daily rounds of patients inside Tampa General Hospital. Dr. Edwards is a hospitalist and as such, he and his team care for hospitalized patients until they are well enough to be discharged. Patient stays range anywhere from 12 hours to many months.


Regardless of stay length or ailment, these in-house doctors known as hospitalists lead a team of other specialists such as physical therapists, nurses and pharmacists, to best provide safe and efficient patient care.

“We see every type of patient at this hospital so it’s hard to say that there is a typical pattern and that’s one of the unique challenges for a hospitalist,” said Dr. Edwards.


USF Health

During patient visits, Dr. Charles Edwards takes time to connect with his patients to learn about their lives and individual challenges that may effect health outcomes.

The hospitalist role is fairly new in medical practice, just two decades since the position first began to appear. Its purpose was to eliminate needless transportation time for primary care doctors so they could focus more on office visits and so that the hospital can provide immediate personalized care to their patients. Currently there are 34 USF Health hospitalists working at Tampa General Hospital.

“We are here, we are here 24 hours a day. Available immediately to see patients, if needed,” said Dr. Edwards who takes pride in connecting with his patients, “though [my care] may not continue, while they’re here [I’m] going to care for them as much as their primary care doctor does.”

On a typical morning you’ll find Dr. Edwards and his team reporting on their patients’ progress with details about medication, mental status and sleep or eating patterns. They will see between 15 to 20 patients throughout the day. However, patient care involves more than bedside visits. For physicians like Dr. Edwards, responsibilities extend into his personal life and he is passionate about it. He might read more about the symptoms of a patient he’s not sure about or catch up on the latest from his favorite medical journal.


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Residents and students evaluate patients’ progress with Dr. Edward’s guidance.

Dr. Edwards’ profession is not just about patient care, it’s an “innate curiosity about medicine,” and a balance of at least four other roles. In addition to being the director of the Division of Hospital Medicine, vice-chairman for Clinical Operations in the Department of Internal Medicine and chief of staff at TGH, he is also an associate professor at USF Health’s Morsani College of Medicine.


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Patient records are updated as Dr. Edwards and his team complete morning rounds.

“Without a doubt teaching is my main inspiration,” said Dr. Edwards. “The one thing I can do and enjoy, [is to] go around with my students, residents and my team to see our patients.”

Many doctors were inspired to pursue their profession by personal reasons, or wanting to do something important in life. Dr. Edwards had these reasons, but his active role as an educator is a daily reminder of the benefits of his kind of work.

“I’m constantly around other people who are learning,” said Dr. Edwards. I constantly have to try and teach younger physicians and that’s one of the best ways to learn, is to teach. They certainly keep you on your toes.”


USF Health

Dr. Charles Edwards and his team provide non-surgical patient care throughout Tampa General Hospital.

Aside from his patients, mentorships and dedication to keep up with medical advancements, Dr. Edwards has his mind set on the future of hospital medicine.

“We’re constantly looking for ways to make the hospital safer,” said Dr. Edwards. He’s referring to the main challenge his profession faces: The transition of patient care.

Caring for patients has a multi-level set of tasks that include bedside visits, medical charting, preventing infections, avoiding unnecessary tests, not delaying patient stays, and the continuum of patient care beyond their hospital stay.

“One of the things that you must do is make sure you understand the challenges a particular patient is going to face when they’re discharged so that you can try to best address them,” said Dr. Edwards. “But it is often a source of anxiety when patients leave the hospital.”

The final stage of Dr. Edwards’ care involves updating the patient’s records and sharing the hospitalization charts with the primary doctor. Patient medical information is private and protected by federal HIPAA laws, which limit how hospitalists and primary doctors can exchange records.

Medicine, as most professional fields, has been increasingly harnessing the powers of technology. The transition of patient care is eased by the standardization of electronic health records and USF Health’s Physicians Group patients will benefit even more with its transition to EPIC– the same EHR used at TGH, thus providing a stronger continuity of care. With a unified records system, interdisciplinary caregivers can access thorough medical data about a patient. Hospitals, clinics and physicians can share details about their patient’s outcome and will help relieve the worry that hospitalists have when treating or discharging patients. But for Dr. Edwards, the best assurance has a personal touch.

Technology will certainly play a big role in improving the transition of care in the future, but there’s no substitute for good old-fashioned verbal communication with fellow colleagues.”

Story and multimedia by Sandra C. Roa, USF Health Office of Communications. 


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