There are many people who need to take anticoagulation medications, most often Coumadin® (warfarin) to help prevent excess blood clotting. Warfarin is commonly prescribed for people with a variety of heart conditions, and there are other medical conditions that can warrant its use, or the use of drugs like heparin, which also needs close attention. The trouble with these medications is that getting blood levels of the medications accurate takes some work, and it’s easy to throw off levels by eating certain foods, when people get sick, or as a result of using other medications. Therefore many people need medication adjustments on a fairly regular basis and benefit from the services an anticoagulation clinic.
Under some circumstances, taking some anticoagulants would ordinarily mean that people had to have blood tests at labs frequently, but this is impractical and most labs send out their bloodwork to be tested by other facilities. Being able to get immediate blood level readings is vital and this is part of the work of an anticoagulation clinic. In most cases, these clinics work with each individual to test for appropriate blood levels and to adjust medication them as needed right away, instead of allowing patients to remain on levels that are too low or too high for several days. The immediacy of being able to get blood levels checked and medication adjusted is one great benefit to these clinics.
Another advantage is that most anticoagulation clinic types don’t require blood samples to be taken from veins. Instead improvement in equipment has led to ability to test blood via finger poke blood samples. For those people having challenges with getting warfarin levels accurate, finger pokes are usually far easier to bear than frequent venous blood tests. These still may be necessary from time to time, but may be required far less often.
A vital part of an anticoagulation clinic is its ability to offer not only blood testing and medication adjustments levels but also education resources to its clients. These can help people be aware of what warning signs they need to look for when on warfarin, and what things they ought to avoid doing. Clinics may be open every day too, though this varies, so that if a patient has questions about medication dosage, they can get quick access to services without waiting for appointments.
A large cardiologist’s office might run an anticoagulation clinic or many hospitals have outpatient clinics dedicated to this purpose. They may serve a broad population base, and some offer services like translation or education for parents of kids on warfarin or for those people who are caring for elderly dependents on anticoagulants. Many health insurance companies fully cover these services, and the clinics may have special payment arrangements or take government health care payments from those who lack health insurance.