Anticoagulation therapy is a course of drug therapy in which medications are administered to a patient to slow the rate at which the patient's blood clots. A doctor, pharmacist or nurse must carefully supervise the drug therapy because it is not without risk and patients need to be monitored for bleeding or clotting complications.
Anticoagulants are often referred to as “blood thinners,” which is misleading, because these drugs do not “thin” the blood. Anticoagulants inhibit the formation of clotting agents so that the blood cannot clot as easily.
If you have been prescribed an anticoagulation medication (such as Coumadin/Warfarin), talk to your doctor about getting a referral to the Summa Anticoagulation Management Service Program located at Summa Akron City Hospital.
How will this program help me?
There are many drugs (both prescription and nonprescription) that can interact with anticoagulant medications. It is important for patients to be aware of these possible drug interactions and side effects.
Eating some foods also can interfere with the effectiveness of anticoagulant medications by increasing or decreasing the ability of blood to clot – which increases the risk for developing a blood clot or causing excessive bleeding.
Anticoagulant therapy does carry some risk, so it is important for patients to learn how these drugs should be used, their possible side effects and when to seek medical attention should an episode of excessive bleeding occur.
Patients taking anticoagulant medications need information about these drugs so they can work with their doctor and pharmacist to reduce the risk of complications.
Recent studies have shown that patients who participate in an anticoagulation management program:
- Have fewer complications due to bleeding or clotting
- Need fewer emergency department visits
- Require fewer blood tests
The Summa Anticoagulation Management Service (SAMS) is designed to improve patient outcomes by partnering with primary care physicians to offer patients additional support and assistance during their course of anticoagulation therapy.
This care is not meant to replace the care offered by your primary care physician. It supplements the care you already receive from your doctor.
The program is designed to:
- Provide comprehensive patient education about anticoagulation therapy
- Improve adherence to treatment regimens, including medications, dietary restrictions and keeping follow-up appointments
- Increase awareness of the signs of a potential problem – and know when to seek help
- Reduce emergency room visits and hospital readmissions as a result of bleeding or clotting complications
The SAMS team provides:
- Easy access to a pharmacist and/or a nurse with special training in anticoagulation therapy
- Evidence-based medication management
- Urgent evaluations for changes in clinical status
- Support from a nurse and/or pharmacist in making changes to diet and medication
- Ongoing patient and family education
What can I expect during visits?
During your initial visit to the SAMS clinic:
- You will meet with a nurse or pharmacist with special training in the use of anticoagulants
- Your finger will be pricked with a needle to draw a small blood sample for INR testing (to measure the ability of your blood to clot) if you are on warfarin (also known as Coumadin, Jantoven)
- Your medication dosage will be adjusted by a pharmacist or nurse (if needed)
- You will receive educational instruction from a pharmacist or nurse during which you will have the opportunity to ask questions about your therapy
Subsequent visits with the nurse or pharmacist will occur at regular intervals.
A medical history will be taken and a physical exam will be performed by a clinic physician after your referral to the clinic. We will share information about your progress and provide a status update to your physician on an as-needed basis.
How can I participate or learn more?
The SAMS clinic is located at:
Summa Anticoagulation Management Service (SAMS)
Heart and Lung Specialty Health Center
95 Arch Street, Suite 240
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