Blood thinners, also known as anti-coagulants, serve the important function of preventing your blood from clotting, or prevent existing clots from getting bigger. Blood thinners do not make your blood thinner or break up existing clots. Instead they keep your blood from getting thicker and forming new clots, or slow down the growth of existing clots. If a large blood clot does form this can be a life threatening situation.
It can break off and flow through your bloodstream (called an embolus) and get lodged in a vein or artery, blocking the flow of blood to an organ resulting in tissue death (also known as infarction). Examples of this occurring are when a blood clot blocks an artery leading to your brain leading to an embolic stroke, or a clot forming and breaking off in the deep veins of your leg, breaking off, and getting lodged in an artery to your lung. (This is known as a pulmonary embolism).
When Are Patients Typically Prescribed Blood Thinners?
If you are at a high risk for an embolic stroke, have suffered an embolic stroke, have been diagnosed with a clot in the deep veins of your leg (known as a deep vein thrombosis), or are seen as a high risk for clotting in general, you will likely be prescribed blood thinners. These blood thinners include: Apixaban (Eliquis), Dabigatran (Pradaxa), Edoxaban (Savaysa), Fondaparinux (Arixtra), Heparin (Fragmin, Innohep, and Lovenox), Rivaroxaban (Xarelto), and Warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven).
Sometimes these medications are prescribed to you by a doctor you are seeing over a long period of time for other issues, such as a cardiologist. However sometimes blood thinners are prescribed after an emergency event requiring treatment at a hospital – such as a stroke or DVT. In that instance your blood thinners may then be managed by a doctor you are treating with long term such as your primary care physician.
Why Would A Doctor Decide To Stop Prescribing A Patient Blood Thinners?
Here at the Thistle Law Firm, Thomas Thistle handled a claim in which a client was put on blood thinners permanently after he suffered tissue death to his spleen due to clotting, and then was found to have a clot or embolus in his foot a year later. Following what was described as an “embolic event” by a vascular surgeon who treated the client for the clot in his foot, the vascular surgeon wrote to the client’s primary care doctor that the client needed to remain on blood thinners indefinitely. The client’s primary care doctor undertook the responsibility of prescribing and monitoring the client’s blood thinning medication.
A few years later the client was hospitalized for rectal bleeding – bleeding being a possible side effect of blood thinners. After going to the emergency room and receiving treatment at a hospital, the client claimed he was told by the doctors at the hospital to follow up with his primary care doctor about whether his blood thinners should be stopped. When the client called his primary care doctor’s office he claimed he was told by his primary care doctor – through that doctor’s medical assistant – to stop the blood thinners and arrange a follow up at his office in the future. The client claimed his primary care doctor made this decision without consulting with his vascular surgeon first, finding out the details of his hospitalization which prompted the phone call, or speaking to the client directly on the phone about the hospitalization.
The client suffered severe and debilitating injuries as a result of his blood thinning medication being stopped, including mesenteric infarction (tissue death to the intestine and bowel due to inadequate blood flow there). After over two years of litigating the case the Thistle Law Firm was able to achieve a settlement on behalf of the client.
The Thistle Law Firm is experienced at handling claims for doctors or other medical care providers negligently stopping blood thinners and other medication. If you or a loved one suffered serious harm as a result of blood thinners being stopped, the attorneys at the Thistle Law Firm are here to take your call at 215-568-6800.