What does a haematologist do?
A haematologist is a specialist doctor who treats conditions that affect the blood, and the organs that make the blood.
What training has a haematologist had?
A haematologist has completed at least 5 years of specialist training after becoming a doctor.
In Australia, most haematologists are fellows of the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia, with the initials FRCPA after their name.
Many are also fellows of the Royal Australian College of Physicians, with the initials FRACP after their name.
What conditions do haematologists treat?
Haematologists treat conditions of the blood and the lymphoid glands, including:
- leukaemia — a cancer that develops in the bone marrow
- myeloma — a type of cancer that affects some white blood cells
- Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma — cancers of the lymphatic system
- anaemia — a lack of red blood cells in the blood
- haemophilia — a genetic condition that causes abnormal bleeding
- thalassaemia — a genetic condition that affects red blood cells
- sickle cell disease — a genetic condition that affects the shape of red blood cells
- iron deficiency or overload (haemochromatosis)
Haematologists also treat people with blood clots, bone marrow disorders and those who need bone marrow transplants.
They can play an active role at every stage of caring for a patient, from their first visit to a clinic, through diagnosis and during treatment.
Where do they work?
Haematologists work in clinics and laboratories. You can find them in public and private hospitals. They also manage blood transfusion services.
How to find a haematologist?
Ask your doctor, close friends or family to recommend a good haematologist. You can also find them by using healthdirect’s online service finder.
How much will a haematologist cost?
A haematologist's costs can vary a lot, depending on the type of care you receive, whether it’s in hospital, whether you have private health insurance, and on how much the haematologist charges.
Out of hospital care
If you see a haematologist in their rooms, then Medicare will cover:
- all of the costs if they bulkbill
- some of the costs if they don't bulkbill
You can't use private health insurance for out of hospital care.
Treatment in a public hospital using Medicare
If you are treated in a public hospital or clinic and use Medicare, it is free. Medicare covers all costs.
Treatment in any hospital using private health insurance
If you use private health insurance to be treated in either a public hospital or a private hospital or clinic, you will be charged by the haematologist and by the hospital. You might also be charged for pathology tests, x-rays and other forms of imaging, and by other doctors you see. If you have private health insurance may cover some of these costs.
Asking about costs
It can be expensive to see specialists.
Before you go for the first time, ask the haematologist of their staff about the costs. You can also ask what Medicare will cover.
If you plan to use private health insurance, you can also contact your health fund.
If the costs are too high, your options are:
- to ask the haematologist or their staff about a reduction
- to consider another haematologist or health service
- to talk to your doctor about options such as a different type of treatment
It is important to get a referral from your doctor to see the haematologist. That way, your doctor can pass on useful information, and the haematologist can later tell your doctor about your visit. Also, if you don’t have a referral, neither Medicare nor private health insurance will contribute to the cost of your care.
These organisations provide information about specific health conditions which might require a referral to a haematologist for diagnosis or treatment:
- The Cancer Council has information about leukaemias, lymphomas and myeloma
- The Leukaemia Foundation has information about leukaemia
- The Haemophilia Foundation Australia has information about haemophilia and von Willebrand disease
- The Thalassaemia Society of NSW has more information on thalassaemia
- Visit the Cancer Council Australia website to find support groups
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Last reviewed: September 2020