Haematology is the subspecialty of internal medicine concerned with disorders of the blood, bone marrow and lymphatic systems. These include anemias, disorders of white blood cells or platelets, aplastic anemia and other bone marrow failures, abnormal clotting and bleeding, Hodgkin’s disease and blood malignancies such as leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma, hairy cell leukemia and related problems.
As internists, haematologists are called in for cases of suspected blood disorders when the diagnosis is unclear or specialized medical care is needed. They coordinate total patient care, working, where needed, with surgeons, radiation therapists, gynecologists or other specialists.
They sometimes offer patients an opportunity to participate in clinical research that might result in more effective methods of treatment.
Not everyone with a blood problem needs a haematologist. Many blood problems are diagnosed and managed by general internists. When special knowledge in diagnosis and treatment is required, the skills of a haematologist are called upon. Treatments may include therapeutic phlebotomy, bone marrow aspiration, core bone marrow biopsy, and chemotherapy or other special therapy.
In most cases, you will still need a general internist or other primary care physician for non-haematology-related medical care, although some haematologists maintain a general internal medicine practice as well as their subspecialty.
If you have been referred by a primary care physician to a haematologist, in most cases you will go back to the primary care physician for follow-up care. If you require continuing care for haematology related conditions, your primary care physician and your haematologist, working together, will recommend which physician you should see.