Listen to this post
RANGELY I The Rangely District Hospital Laboratory was, until recently, the standard location for blood draws of patients on Coumadin, a blood-thinning drug used to prevent strokes, heart attacks and blood clots.
In the past, patients returned home after the draw to await a call from a registered nurse or medical assistant, who passed along a doctor’s order to adjust or maintain the Coumadin dosage. From beginning to end, the process usually took a couple of hours.
Rangely Family Medicine’s new coagulation program allows patients to have their INR — a standard ratio that measures how effectively the blood is clotting — evaluated immediately. This means current Coumadin levels can be continued or adjusted at the time of service, without patients waiting for a phone call.
Rather than coming in for a full blood draw each time in the lab, patients simply need to have a “finger stick” blood test taken in the coagulation office at Rangely Family Medicine.
“This service is great for our patients,” said Rangely Family Medicine clinic manager Lois Pittman. “It is much easier, less costly, and more convenient.”
Guided by protocols set in place by RFM physicians for Coumadin patients, health care professionals trained in anticoagulation therapy can now interpret INRs, monitor and adjust dosage, educate patients on Coumadin therapy, and follow up on any changes made.
Certified Medical Assistant Cindy Stults and Registered Nurse Karen Stanley see Coumadin patients by appointment on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
“The program will give patients a better overall understanding of how Coumadin is managed,” said Stanley. “We’re evaluating the patient as a whole, not just a number. We’re talking to them about changes in lifestyle, food, exercise — all of the things that can affect their Coumadin levels.”
To get started in the coagulation program, patients need a referral from their physician. The patient’s medical history, diagnosis, and current dosage are discussed during the initial meeting. Subsequent appointments include the finger stick and any medication adjustments, along with teaching patients how to keep their Coumadin levels in check.