The Hematopoietic System
Kim Maryniak, PhD, RNC-NIC, NEA-BC
The hematopoietic system consists of organs and tissues, primarily the bone marrow, spleen, tonsils, and lymph nodes involved in the production of blood (Mosby Company, 2016). Blood is composed of the liquid component of plasma, and the solid components, which are mainly erythrocytes, leukocytes, and thrombocytes.
The solid components of blood are formed by hematopoiesis, which is the continuous, regulated formation of blood cells. There are three primary functions of hematopoiesis, including oxygen delivery, hemostasis, and host defense. Hematological activities occur in many organs of the body and have the potential for multiple forms of pathology (Rodgers & Young, 2018).
When assessing a patient’s hematological system, it is important to ask questions that reveal clues about the oxygen carrying capacity of their blood. Obtaining a thorough health history will assist in identifying any risk factors that could influence the patient’s hematological status. Assessment of the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood requires the nurse to review the patient’s history, physical exam findings, and the lab results of their complete blood count with differential (Jarvis, 2015).
A thorough knowledge of hematological anatomy and physiology paired with appropriate assessment techniques is essential in effectively caring for patients. A good understanding of hematological processes will promote appropriate care for patients with a wide range of hematological problems.
For more information about the hematopoietic system, refer to the RN.com course Hematological Anatomy, Physiology and Assessment.
Jarvis, C. (2015). Physical examination and health assessment (7th ed.). St. Louis, MO: W.B. Saunders.
Mosby Company. (2016). Mosby’s medical dictionary (10th ed.). New York: Elsevier.
Rodgers, G., & Young, N. (2018). Bethesda handbook of clinical hematology (4th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
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