The modified ghost fluid method (MGFM), due to its reasonable treatment for ghost fluid state, has been shown to be robust and efficient when applied to compressible multi-medium flows. Other feasible definitions of the ghost fluid state, however, have yet to be systematically presented. By analyzing all possible wave structures and relations for a multi-medium Riemann problem, we derive all the conditions to define the ghost fluid state. Under these conditions, the solution in the real fluid region can be obtained exactly, regardless of the wave pattern in the ghost fluid region. According to the analysis herein, a practical ghost fluid method (PGFM) is proposed to simulate compressible multi-medium flows. In contrast with the MGFM where three degrees of freedomat the interface are required to define the ghost fluid state, only one degree of freedomis required in this treatment. However, when these methods proved correct in theory are used in computations for the multi-medium Riemann problem, numerical errors at the material interface may be inevitable. We show that these errors are mainly induced by the single-medium numerical scheme in essence, rather than the ghost fluid method itself. Equipped with some density-correction techniques, the PGFM is found to be able to suppress these unphysical solutions dramatically.