Coumadin Blood Test Nightmare

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

My husband, Greg, takes Coumadin to help prevent blood clots. He's paralyzed from the chest down so he is unable to move to help prevent clots on his own. Plus he had two clots about 1 1/2 years ago, which increases his chances of getting more. Up until now visiting nurses have performed the blood test, but because Greg's health has greatly improved he no longer requires the frequent nurse visits (I am so happy about this). Medicare will no longer pay for a visiting nurse visit to just check Coumadin blood levels so a company was started to provide the testing equipment and supplies for the patient or caregiver to do the test. A visiting nurse came out with the equipment and testing supplies and showed us how to perform the weekly test.

To perform the test I must insert a test strip into the machine, be sure the machine and test strip have the same code number; take a lancet, push in a tab, twist and then remove the tab. The lancet is now ready to poke Greg's finger, but first make sure the correct end is against the finger - otherwise the needle will shoot out across the room (or into someone). Once poked the finger must be "milked" to get a drop of blood about the size of a ladybug. Then I must take a tube and gather the blood up to a marked line. Next I place the blood sample on an indicated circle on the test strip. The machine then draws the blood up inside and after several seconds gives the blood level. I was sure that between Greg and I we would be able to perform the test without a problem.

We were right - the first week. I was so proud of us and when the nurse called later in the day to see how things went I was happy to report it went very well. Yeah for us!

Then came week #2. The first test placed a big blood bubble on the test strip and the machine did not like that. Okay - we took a deep breath and went for test strip #2 (plus another lancet and tube). This time the blood wasn't so easy coming out - I THOUGHT there was a "ladybug" amount, but I was wrong and the test failed AGAIN. This shook me and Greg decided to help me out with poke #3.

Greg took the lancet, prepped it correctly and then placed the wrong end against his finger. This is when we discovered that the needle shoots out when used incorrectly. No one was hurt, but I did need to vacuum to make sure I didn't step on the dumb thing later. I then took lancet #4 and forgot to push in the tab and just removed it - so #4 was garbage. Lancet #5 was prepped and used correctly but by now both Greg and I were so stressed out and the blood simply wouldn't come out of Greg! Finally there was enough blood, but the tube sucked it up into it's bulb and when put into the machine it gave us an error code which meant we had to do it all over AGAIN! UGH!!!

Holy Cow!!! By now we were beyond stressed! What on earth??? Week #1 was perfect - what was wrong with us?

Finally we did everything correctly, but we had depleted our supplies. The results came out perfectly though. When the nurse called to see how week #2 went - I was near tears and she said she'd come out the next week.

Well, yesterday was week #3 and Nurse Debi was there to coach us through. Well, even with Nurse Debi there it was a repeat of week #2!!!! Even Nurse Debi was frustrated. Turns out Greg's blood is difficult to draw - for everyone! That's a problem. We are also questioning the machine - it may be defective. After several phone calls between Nurse Debi and the company it was decided that: #1 a new machine (plus supplies) will be sent; and #2 if the new machine doesn't "like" Greg's blood draw using the tube, he'll have to drop the blood directly onto the test strip rather than use the tube to collect the sample. This whole thing is so stressful, but at least we learned it wasn't us!!! UGH!!!

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • LIZK007

    I don't know if the service is available everywhere - we're in the Chicago area. The company is:

    A Lincare Company

    The doctor who orders the blood test would also need to order this service.

    If you are unable to work due to health problems you may want to apply for Social Security Disability. If you've applied and been denied - then maybe you need to hire an attorney who specializes in Disability benefits.

    Best of luck to you!
    3662 days ago
  • no profile photo BERTMAN123
    Hello all;

    i also must pay for weekly and monthly visits to check my Coumadin levels.
    i have been out of work since last July. i am 59 years old and just applied for medical retirement. i will not know if they will accept my application for at least 3 months. I will not receive medicare until two more years has gone by. I will not get any money from social security, if accepted, for at least 5 month maybe 9.

    My Cobra insurance has drained what savings my wife and I had. Next month I will no longer be able to pay the monthly cobra insurance payment ($1,2000).

    I just can not afford the cost of getting checked at the hospital. I have a lot of experience at picking my finger for a blood check as I've had type 2 diabetes for the last 8 years. Could someone please tell me how I can get the testing equipment so I can check my own levels at home?

    In need. Bert

    3664 days ago

    Comment edited on: 6/11/2011 12:33:48 AM
    I never knew that you could test your own level I have to have blood drawn each month. I would probably bothch things up worse than you and then I would have to sit and laugh at myself. I do that a lot. Might as well take it a laugh and that way I don't get all stressed out/
    3687 days ago
  • BETHV10
    I'm so sorry! My husband is on coumadin as well. He has his blood checked once a month and goes to the hospital for the test.
    Your experience would certainly stress me as well.
    Sounds like you have a very caring nurse which is wonderful. I hope things go better for you and your husband soon. emoticon
    3687 days ago
  • BEEJAY49
    Oh my! Ouch for both of you! That is so much stress to go through. Sure seems like it would be much easier than that. :( Hopefully the new machine will like Greg. Good luck and just breath! HUGS!
    3687 days ago
    I am so glad this is a test you only have to do once a week and that the nurse experienced the same issues so nobody thinks you are incompetent. Hope the new machine and process work seamlessly for you.
    3687 days ago
    Wow, that sounds terrible! I hope the new machine and supplies work out, and the Greg's blood gets easier to draw. Good luck!
    3687 days ago
  • no profile photo ELIZRN
    These sorts of things even happen to RN's ..... take it from me....been there, done that. At least he is your loving husband....have this experience with a patient in the hospital or on a home visit & feel the lack of mis-trust & confidence fall rapidly.

    Machines are machines....but, hopefully the nurse taught you how to milk Greg's finger before sticking him. Even when blood is drawn from the arm, it needs to be milked.

    We learn so much from life experiences. Know how special you are & how open you are to learning new things. I wish I could give you a hug!

    Painting New Life Experiences
    3687 days ago
    This is such a sad testament to our current health care. I do not think that people should be left to do this on their own unless they choose to. So many different things that used to be performed by medical personnel is putting off onto laymans to do now. I am sorry for your frustration and it is not you as you found out. That is why professionals should be helping with this.
    3687 days ago
    Awwww, I'm sending hugs & prayers. I hope it will all get sorted out soon. Hang in there (but I already know you will).

    Love & hugs, Jodee
    3687 days ago
    it isn't easy to "stab" someone you care about. I am a nurse and would hate to have to do the fingerprick on my husband. There are other sites which will bleed quite well, an earlobe for example. Ask the nurse about alternative sites. Is there someone else who you could trust with the procedure?
    best wishes for a better result next week
    3687 days ago
  • no profile photo CD5128667

    O M G - words fail me - I can't even begin to imagine your stress levels (and I thought I've had enough of that in my own life)....

    Thankfully you have a wonderful nurse in your's wishing you all the best!
    3687 days ago
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