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  • Anticoagulation Program (Coumadin clinic)

    Getting the Most Out of Your Medication

    The Anticoagulation Program helps patients monitor and manage their use of Warfarin (brand name Coumadin®), a medication taken to prevent blood clots. Participation in the program reduces possible side effects and helps patients receive the maximum health benefits from their prescriptions.

    • Participants meet at least every four weeks with a specially trained clinical pharmacist.
    • With a small fingerstick blood sample, the pharmacist evaluates medication dosage.
    • Dosage adjustments are made right away, minimizing possibility of complications and side effects.
    • Participation requires physician referral and regular appointments.

    For more information, call the NorthBay Healthcare Anticoagulation Program coordinator at (707) 646-4155.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Q. Why do I need the Anticoagulation program? 

    A. Warfarin/Coumadin® is an anticoagulant (blood thinner) that prevents blood clots and stroke. Although it is a life-saving medication, adverse reactions to the drug can occur if it is not managed closely. Warfarin/Coumadin® is the medication that has been most likely to cause reactions serious enough to result in an emergency room visit or a hospital admission. Many studies show that anticoagulation programs reduce harmful reactions and hospital admissions.
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    Q. Why do I need to come in every 4 weeks? 

    A. Warfarin/Coumadin® is a "narrow therapeutic index" drug. This means that the medication level in your body must be maintained as close as possible to optimum levels. Too much Warfarin/Coumadin® and you are at risk for a hemorrhage (massive internal bleeding); too little and you are at risk for a stroke.

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    Q. Why do I need an appointment? Can't I just go to the lab for regular tests?

    A. To ensure your safety, Warfarin/Coumadin® therapy needs to be monitored at least every 4 weeks. The risks of forgetting your testing – even one time – are great. If your dosage of Warfarin/Coumadin® ever falls out of the therapeutic range, you are at risk of hemorrhage or stroke. By making appointments to have your blood checked, your protimes are tested at the safest intervals possible.

    An appointment also gives you the opportunity to consult with specialists in Warfarin/Coumadin® therapy. You can discuss changes in your dosage with the pharmacist, ask questions and get answers on the spot.  This minimizes the time you are at risk if your results are out of the therapeutic range. An appointment also eliminates the possibility of long lines at a busy laboratory.

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    Q. Why do I see a pharmacist instead of my doctor? 

    A. Pharmacists complete special training to manage Warfarin/Coumadin® therapy.  A supervising physician, usually a cardiologist, is available during your visit if a question or issue arises that is best managed by a physician. The pharmacist can answer your questions about Warfarin/Coumadin®, other drugs you are taking and how they may interact. Your personal physician will continue to manage your care, and the Anticoagulation Program staff will keep him or her up-to-date on your condition.

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