Coumadin or Warfarin is a blood thinner that can help stop a blood clot from forming and prevent a heart attack, stroke or blood clot in an artery, vein or lung. Coumadin can be a life-saving medication as long as your doctor is aware of how dangerous this drug can be and other factors that could increase or decrease its effectiveness.
Not only is it important that your doctor monitor your blood test, bleeding time or partial thromboplastin time (PTT), your physician must also be aware of your diet and other medications or herbal (homeopathic) supplements you are taking. Over-the-counter medications such as: acetaminophen (Tylenol), aspirin, indomethacin (Indocin), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn), celecoxib (Celebrex), diclofenac (Cataflam, Voltaren), , piroxicam (Feldene), and other medications may not only affect your bleeding time, they can also make you at high risk for developing a bleeding stomach ulcer, gastrointestinal bleeding, hemorrhage, anemia, bleeding into the brain, subdural hematoma, subarachnoid hemorrhage, bloody urine and other life-threatening bleeding emergencies.
Not only do over-the-counter medications alter Coumadin's effect, but herbal or homeopathic supplements such as: bromelain, cranberry, co-enzyme Q10, dong guai, danshen, garlic, ginseng, ginko biloba, cranberries, tonka beans, sweet clover, sweet woodruff or St. john's wort can increase your chance of developing a fatal bleeding disorder.
In addition to herbal supplements or over-the-counter medications, your diet while taking Coumadin can also decrease the effectiveness of the medication and put you at risk of developing blood clots. Any food high in Vitamin K will make Coumadin less effective. Your physician should inform you to stay away from foods high in Vitamin K such as liver, vegetable oils, kale, spinach, parsley, brussel sprouts, collard greens, mustard greens, green tea and chard.
Health care providers must also inform any woman of child-bearing years that Coumadin could cause problems if they become pregnant or are already pregnant. Coumadin or wafarin is in most cases, contraindicated in pregnancy. The medication passes through the placenta and can cause birth defects, bleeding in the fetus, spontaneous abortions, neonatal death, premature labor or a still birth. Some babies can develop fetal warfarin syndrome (FWS) and be born with bone or skeletal deformities such as nasal hypoplasia or depressed nasal bridge, scoliosis, calcifications in the spine, femur or heel, brachydactyly or short fingers and toes, or underdeveloped extremities.
When you or a loved one was placed on Coumadin, did the doctor warn you of all the possible dangers the medication may cause? Were you informed of what over the counter medications could affect Coumadin? Where you informed that your diet, vitamins or supplements could change the effect Coumadin had on your body? Or more simply, did the doctor properly monitor the coumadin or bleeding studies?
Yes, coumadin is a wonderful blood thinning medication that saves many lives each year but being on the medication itself is not enough. The doctor prescribing the blood thinner needs to do a complete history and physical to find out every medication or herbal supplement the patient may also be taking. They also should provide some type of nutritional counseling to educate their patients on what foods can alter the effectiveness of the Coumadin.
If you or a family member developed blood clots or bleeding while taking coumadin please feel free to call one of our experienced lawyers, doctors or critical care nurses at (215) 866-2424. You should not continue to suffer because your doctor failed to monitor your bleeding time or warn you of the potential dangers the medication Coumadin can cause. Due to our extensive medical knowledge, we were able to achieve two of the highest medical malpractice verdicts in Pennsylvania. We were there when they needed us and we are here for you now.