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.

Hematology appointment photo

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.

Helpful Guidelines to Assist During Your Treatment
  • Arrive at our office at your scheduled time and check in at the front desk.
  • Please bring your insurance card, photo ID and medication list with you. You will then have a seat in the waiting room. Please note that there are many doctors who work here. Patients are coming for many different reasons. A nurse will escort you to either the treatment or exam area based on the reason for your appointment and your scheduled appointment time.
  • Do not make other appointments the same day as your treatment day. You may need to be here for most of the day. You may bring a friend or family member who can support you. Space limits only one family member or friend in the treatment area. It is good to have someone drive you for your first treatment. Some medications may make you sleepy or cause other side effects that may make driving difficult.
  • Take your medications as you normally would take them. If you require pain medication, please bring that with you as our office does not supply pain medication.
  • Eat a light breakfast. You do not have to fast for lab work drawn in this office. We have a snack area stocked with coffee, water, soda and snacks. We provide a boxed lunch for patients. There is also a cafeteria and snack shop on site for the convenience of family and friends.
  • A TV is available in every treatment room. You may also bring books, music or puzzles to make your treatment time more comfortable.
  • After your treatment or office appointment, you will be given a form indicating when to return to the office. Please take this form to the front desk so we can schedule your appointment.
  • We will give you the office phone number. We have an answering service that is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Do not hesitate to call our office with any questions or concerns — no concern is too small to be addressed. Possible concerns that should be reported are: hives or unexplained itching, fever or chills, chest pain, nausea, shortness of breath, bleeding, back pain and/or decreased urine output. These adverse effects may occur immediately or up to 10 to 14 days after your transfusion.
  • If you are tired, rest and ask for help if necessary. Please keep your appointments and have labs checked as recommended.
  • You may not see your doctor every visit during treatment, especially if everything is going well and according to plan. Your doctor is always available if you would like to see him or her or if you have any questions or concerns.
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