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Why a Coumadin Clinic instead of just a Laboratory to Draw Blood?

May 4, 2011 | Author: | Posted in Disease & Illness

A condition called atrial fibrillation, necessitates more than 22 million Americans to take warfarin regularly for the rest of their lives. The likelihood of developing atrial fibrillation increases with age.Three to five percent of people over 65 have atrial fibrillation. If the blood isn’t pumped completely out of the heart’s upper chambers, it may pool and clot. If a piece of a blood clot in the atria leaves the heart and becomes lodged in an artery in the brain, a stroke results. About 15 percent of strokes occur in people with atrial fibrillation. Maintaining the correct dosage of medication is instrumental to assure patient safety. To be successful on a Coumadin regimen, it is critical that the patient follow the instructions and comply with request s for regular blood tests. Monitoring the effectiveness of the warfarin is done with these blood tests. The International Normalized Ratio (INR), are measured to determine the extrinsic pathway of coagulation. They are used to determine the clotting tendency of blood, in the measure of dosage, liver damage and vitamin K status.

Patients have been going to laboratories to have blood drawn from their arm for the INR test for years. Test results are sent by the laboratory to their doctor. The doctor would then review the results and call the patient and instruct them to either change the dosage of medicine or maintain the same dosage. The dosage is adjusted as necessary to maintain the INR in the desired range. This process generally took one day or longer, before the patient knew if there was to be a change in dosage.

Patient must go through this process for the rest of their lives, often repeating the test at two week intervals. Now, with the advent of these Clinics, there is another option. The Coumadin clinic can offer more to the patient. First of all, they generally have specialized equipment at the clinic which can test the blood from a prick in the finger, eliminating the need to have blood drawn from the arm. Secondly, they meet with the patient to discuss dietary changes, excessive bleeding and any changes in overall health. They often check the patients vital signs and listen to their heartbeat.

But best of all, they instruct the patient right then and there as to any adjustments in the dosage of warfarin needed to maintain the INR within the appropriate range. This means that it is all taken care of in one stop. No more waiting until the end of the day or the following day to make adjustments to the medication.

Another benefit of a clinic is that they schedule the next patient visit at the appropriate interval. Instead, the determine the appropriate time by the stability of the INR reading over time. In some cases, where the INR reading has changed significantly, they may want to re-test in one week. On the other hand, if the INR reading has been stable, the patient might not have to return for up to four weeks.

Add to these benefits, the fact that the Coumadin clinic fills such a specialized need that it can be a friendly office. The receptionists, lab technicians, nurse practitioners and doctors all get to know the patients. The clinic can sometimes offer other laboratory services, allowing the patient to get blood drawn for multiple doctors and for multiple purposes. This may seem like a small thing, but combining appointments for lab work can be a big convenience.

Certainly, the coumadin clinic fills a vital need in our communities.

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