by Mary Rains
Mille Lacs Health System
If you take blood thinners requiring an INR blood test, talk to your MLHS medical provider about the new Anticoagulant Clinic. The new clinic feature is designed to address more effective monitoring, requiring less INR testing.
Anticoagulants include drugs such as Coumadin, Warfarin, Heparin, and Jantoven. They’re blood thinners that reduce the body's ability to form blood clots. This is important for people who have medical conditions such as deep vein thrombosis, heart valve replacements, and atrial fibrillation, to name a few.
The dose requires careful medical attention and testing.
The International Normalized Ratio (INR) is a measure of how much time it takes for your blood to clot. It’s key to anticoagulant therapy. Your anticoagulant dosage depends on the results of your blood test. Your anticoagulant drugs (as well as your intake of foods that have vitamin K in them) must be balanced in relation to the condition you have. Too much anticoagulant drug and problems could ensue, such as easy bruising and bleeding. Too little of your medication is not therapeutic and your medical condition could worsen.
There are Registered Nurses at every MLHS clinic who have received the special training to assist with anticoagulant management. The MLHS patient can now go to the lab, then see an R.N. trained for the process, then get results on the spot. An evidence-based algorithm provides the nurse with information to adjust the patient’s dose before they leave the clinic. The nurse is also there to educate, providing information about what foods to eat or avoid, supplements to take or not to take, and answer any other questions the patient may have. The nurse is also able to take care of any refills.
There is no need for a doctor’s appointment to get your INR tested and meet with a nurse. Simply drop in to any MLHS clinic, during normal clinic hours, which are 9:00-noon and 1:00-5:00. You may also call the Anticoagulant direct line at 320-532-2335 to learn more about the program or to ask questions.
“Studies show that dosing done within a structured process promotes safer dosing,” said Sue Woitalla, RN, clinic manager. “We want to make it easy for patients to receive this kind of care, which is so important while managing health issues.”