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What Is Anticoagulant Management?

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  • Written By: Kenneth W. Michael Wills
  • Edited By: Kaci Lane Hindman
  • Last Modified Date: 23 November 2016
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Anticoagulant drugs are used in healthcare environments to help reduce or stop blood from clotting. Using these drugs, however, poses significant risk factors if not properly administered and managed correctly. Thus, anticoagulant management refers to the processes and procedures used to administer and monitor anticoagulant drugs. Furthermore, usage of such a drug poses additional risks to patients due to interactions with other more therapeutic drugs, thereby complicating the management process. Usually, healthcare providers will develop a comprehensive plan to account for these risk factors and provide staff with proper protocols to ensure efficient delivery and risk mitigation on behalf of patients requiring anticoagulants.

Coagulation occurs naturally in the body, in particular when a wound is present. The blood will clot around the wound to stop bleeding and will stop coagulating once the wound is completely healed. There are various hereditary factors, however, that can cause abnormalities in the clotting process to the point that the clotting can block an entire blood vessel, a condition called thrombosis. As well, in cases where artificial organs are introduced through surgery, coagulation may react differently, leading to increases in blood clotting. Both cases often will require anticoagulant management procedures to be implemented, along with effective administering of anticoagulant drugs to mitigate the risks associated with increased blood clotting.

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Ideally, the use of anticoagulant management is to achieve the natural balance usually found in the normal human coagulation process. Drugs are introduced into the system to suppress the clotting process, and the effects are then continually monitored. Adjustments to the dosage are often required to help achieve this natural balance. Stability is the most crucial factor in the anticoagulant management process, thereby, ensuring risk reduction. Risks to the use of anticoagulant drugs include excessive bleeding if the dose given is too large or excessive clotting if the dose is not strong enough to reduce the clotting.

In most cases, healthcare providers will develop anticoagulant management procedures for each individual anticoagulant drug administered. Each drug operates a bit differently when introduced to the human body, so each requires its own individual protocols for effective administering and management. Such protocols will usually include dosage algorithms, standard usage of the drug, and outpatient educational procedures. Protocols drawn up will usually result from a committee that is recruited from within the healthcare establishment and often will include doctors, nurses, laboratory specialists, pharmacists and others impacted by the management process.

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