A hematologist is a doctor who specializes in the study of blood, blood-forming organs and blood diseases. Typically, a hematologist treats patients with blood disorders and malignancies, including types of hemophilia, leukemia, lymphoma and sickle-cell anemia.
As part of a patient care team, hematologists work closely with surgeons, radiation oncologists and other specialists to help patients understand their diagnosis, develop individualized treatment plans, coordinate aspects of care and provide surgical, chemotherapeutic and immunotherapeutic treatment.
There are about 12,000 practicing hematologists in the US.
Hematology is considered to be a specialized field of medicine. This means that to be a hematologist, one must have an M.D., at least two to three years residency, at least three years of training in an accredited hematology program and must pass an examination given by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM).
A doctor's residency is considered to be the three years of clinical training that takes place after completing medical school. The training involves a track such as internal medicine, pathology or pediatrics, and is a precursor to specific hematology study.
The three years required in a fellowship program are when a doctor learns specifically about the hematology specialty. According to the American Society of Hematology, the American hematologist "has trained in a subspecialty program approved by the American Board of Internal Medicine or the American Board of Pediatrics, or has acquired a comparable education in the field by alternate means, and is Board Certified in the subspecialty of hematology."
The first year of the fellowship focuses on clinical training in areas like adult hematology, coagulation, hematology, pathology or pediatric hematology. The second and third years of fellowship are devoted to career tracks specific to the doctor.
To become board-certified, hematologist, a candidate must successfully complete an exam given by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM).
Where Hematologists Work
Many hematologists work closely with colleagues in medical and radiation oncology, transplantation and other specialties in the care of their patients.
Hematologists can work in a variety of settings including:
- Private clinics: will generally work a standard 8-5 workday
- Hospitals: will likely be on call
- Laboratories: work closely with hematologists to diagnose hematological diseases
- Blood banks: keep blood supplies safe and accessible, and may supervise labs that analyze blood samples and provide advice to organizations that provide advocacy services for patients with genetic blood disorders.
- Cancer centers: will likely see a patient that has been referred to them by their primary care physician.
The average salary of a hematologist is about $272,985.
How They Help People
As internists, hematologists 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.
Because blood runs through every organ and tissue in the body, hematology has major impact on all fields of medicine. Modern advances made by hematologists have helped millions of people around the world, not only with blood disorders but also with heart disease, stroke, and inherited diseases.
Hematologists and Medical Malpractice
When looking at a potential medical malpractice claim, certain criteria must be met:
- a physician-patient relationship must have existed
- the care provider must owe the patient a duty of care
- there was a failure in some part of the duty of care
- the lack of care was the proximate cause of harm, and
- a harm occurred
Medical malpractice claims against hematologists are rare but they do happen. When a claim for medical malpractice is brought against a hematologist, it is usually because of a systematic error like a drug ordered by the hematologist was incorrectly administered to the patient. Misdiagnosis or improper treatments are other areas that may give rise to a medical malpractice claim against a hematologist.
Experienced Maryland Medical Malpractice Attorneys
If you or a loved one has suffered a negligent injury from a hematologist, call the attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian today at (800) 529-6162.