A hematologist is a physician who treats disorders and diseases of the blood. Whether working in a private practice or larger practice, the hematologist works with patients that have blood-related medical issues that are mild, chronic or terminal. Similar to other physicians, a hematologist has a degree in medicine and specializes in hematology.
Patients who see a hematologist are often referred by their general practitioner or primary doctor. At the initial office visit, the hematologist reads through the notes provided by the patient's primary care doctor. The hematologist also reads over the paperwork the patient has completed and discusses symptoms and medical history. As part of the diagnostic process, the hematologist may order blood tests to help narrow down possible medical conditions, bringing a diagnosis closer. If the patient sees other physicians for related medical issues, the hematologist may confer with the other doctors, as well. The hematologist may work with patients with a diagnosis of blood-related diseases such as anemia, leukemia and other vascular disorders.
Once the hematologist has formed a diagnosis, he formulates a treatment plan that is specific to his patient's needs. As part of the treatment plan, the hematologist discusses the prognosis of the condition and how best to treat and deal with it. If surgery is required or will improve the patient's condition, the hematologist refer the patient to an appropriately trained surgeon. Other forms of treatment include therapies and prescription medication. Throughout the course of the patient's treatment, the hematologist will assess whether or not the current treatment plan effectively addresses the condition, adjusting the treatment as necessary.
As part of forming a diagnosis and creating a treatment plan, the hematologist may work in the laboratory to analyze blood samples. Working directly in the laboratory allows the hematologist to examine blood samples and rule out certain blood-related disorders and identify possible medical issues. In the laboratory, the hematologist may work alongside pathologists or laboratory technicians.