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AHRQ announces guide to help patients on Coumadin®/warfarin therapy

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (ARHQ) has released a new consumer publication, Your Guide to Coumadin®/Warfarin Therapy. This 20-page, easy-to-read patient brochure explains what patients should expect and watch out for while undergoing Coumadin®/warfarin therapy.

In 2005, more than 3.8 million Americans were taking Coumadin®/warfarin, at an estimated cost of nearly $963 million, according to the latest data from AHRQ. Warfarin is a blood thinner that is used to help prevent blood clots that can cause a stroke, heart attack, or other serious conditions. Clinicians sometimes prescribe it for other uses as well, and the booklet is intended to help patients who have been prescribed the drug use it as safely as possible. Warfarin is the second most common drug after insulin implicated in emergency room visits for adverse drug events, according to the Food and Drug Administration. A simple blood test can quickly tell whether a patient is taking too much or too little warfarin.

This brochure educates patients about their medication therapy and potentially dangerous side effects, explains how to communicate effectively with their health care providers, and provides tips for lifestyle modifications. It also provides information on remembering when to take the medicine, learning how to stay safe while taking the medicine, maintaining a consistent diet, and alerting health care providers to concurrent drugs and/or supplements patients are taking to avoid any potential adverse interactions.

This publication was developed through one of AHRQ's Partnership for Implementing Patient Safety (PIPS) grant projects at Kirkwood Community College. The project was led by James Levett, M.D., chief medical officer at the Physicians Clinic of Iowa and Carla Huber, A.R.N.P., M.S., of the Cedar Rapids Healthcare Alliance. The purpose of PIPS grants is to assist consumers, clinicians, and health care institutions in implementing safe practices that may eliminate or reduce medical errors, risks, hazards, and harms associated with health care processes.

The new booklet can be found online at www.ahrq.gov/consumer/coumadin.htm. It is also featured on the SOS Rx Coalition's Web site, www.mybloodthinner.org.

Free single copies of Your Guide to Coumadin®/Warfarin Therapy (AHRQ Publication No. 08-0028-A) are available from the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse.

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