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What to Expect: Hematology
You have been referred to a hematologist. Now what happens?
Before your treatment begins, you will meet with your doctor - a hematologist - to review your medical history. During this appointment, you will receive a physical exam. The hematologist also will want you to describe your current symptoms and general health. Blood tests will be ordered and when the results are reviewed, the hematologist can begin to diagnose your particular blood disorder or disease. If a treatment plan is necessary, your doctor will work with you to develop a personalized plan that may include injections, intravenous solutions or blood transfusions. If blood transfusions are part of your treatment plan, you will be asked to sign a consent form for the blood transfusions. The doctor will explain all of the risks and benefits to you. The consent form confirms that you have received the information regarding blood transfusions including the procedure that will be used, the benefits of transfusions and possible risks.
What to expect during your hematology appointment
If you are receiving blood or blood products (platelets), we will need to match your blood to the product. This is called, "Type and Screen." A lab technician will draw a sample of your blood to find your blood type - A, B, AB, or O — and the blood bank will test your sample to make sure that the blood type used matches your blood type.
This may take some time but is very important to make sure you get the right blood to prevent a reaction. We may also give you some medications to help prevent reactions. Transfusions usually take one to six hours. The time depends on how much blood you need and your general health condition. Your nurse will explain procedures, monitor you and answer any questions you may have.
Your nurse will access your Power Port or Mediport if you have one. A port is a small medical appliance that is inserted beneath the skin, usually in the chest area. A catheter connects the port to a vein so medications can be given into the blood stream. If you have a port, please wear a button-down top to assure easy access to the port site. This will help to maintain a sterile environment and to prevent infection. You may be asked to remove your shirt if necessary. A gown will be provided for your comfort. If you do not have a port, a nurse will start an IV in your arm.
Many hematology patients receive Procrit, a medication which is injected into the upper arm. In addition, some patients receive an iron supplement, a medication which is given as an IV infusion.
Your treatment plan will determine the frequency of your visits and the length of your appointment times. Blood will be drawn and results will be reviewed before any medications are administered. You will be given literature on any medications you receive. Your doctor and nurse are there to offer support and answer your questions.
What to expect after your hematology treatment
After your hematology session is finished, we will remove the IV catheter. Your nurse or doctor will review possible side effects with you. We will then give you a return appointment.