Warfarin INR testing
If you take warfarin, you can get your International Normalised Ratio (INR) blood tests at your community pharmacy.
There is no need to travel to a laboratory to provide a blood sample or to wait for the doctor to ring you with your test results.
Your pharmacist can test your blood using a gentle finger prick test and immediately provide your test results and advice on your next warfarin dose.
Selected pharmacies throughout New Zealand provide this service and patient warfarin levels are well managed in the preferred therapeutic range.
Talk to your pharmacist or doctor about being referred for the Community Pharmacy Anticoagulation Management Service (CPAMS).
This information is intended for patients. If you are a health professional, please see Information for Health Professionals.
What do patients say about the service?
- “I am pleased that my pharmacy can offer this service as it was a pain going to the labs and then waiting for the nurse or doctor to call me. This is instant.”
- “It doesn’t hurt as much, it’s just a finger prick.”
- “It’s great that you are working together with my GP.”
- “I understand my warfarin management and what INR means for me.”
Who can register for the service?
Your doctor must refer you for the service.
If you are prescribed warfarin then this service can offer you an easy, gentle and convenient option for managing your INR level and warfarin doses.
How do I register for the service?
You will need to talk to your doctor to decide if the service is right for you.
If you are suitable for the service, then your doctor may be able to refer you to a pharmacy in your area who you can register with.
How do I get an INR blood test at my pharmacy?
After you have agreed to be registered for this service it takes just four simple steps:
- Visit the pharmacy
- Do the finger prick test
- Get immediate test results
- Get immediate advice on your next dose
Visit the pharmacy. The test is performed in a private consulting room at the pharmacy.
Do the finger prick test. Instead of going to the laboratory for your test, a trained pharmacist can measure your INR levels using just a small sample of blood from a finger prick. One drop of blood is usually enough. Even with such a small amount of blood the test is accurate and reliable.
Get immediate results. Your results are available within seconds. There is no need to wait for your doctor or nurse to contact you with your warfarin dose.
Get immediate advice on your next dose. Your pharmacist will advise you on what dose of warfarin to take. You will be provided with a small take home calendar to help you remember your dose and next test date.
How is my warfarin dose calculated?
Once your pharmacist has your current INR result then your dose of warfarin can be calculated.
If your warfarin dose is too high this can result in excessive bleeding. If you don't have enough warfarin, then blood clotting can occur. This is what we want to prevent from happening.
A simple dose calendar can be printed or emailed to you from the pharmacy, so that you can mark off the doses as you take them. This also helps to remind you when your next test is due.
How is my doctor involved?
If you take warfarin for anticoagulation (blood thinning) it is important to have the right warfarin dose for you. Your pharmacist can work closely with you and your doctor to achieve this.
The test results will go directly into your doctor's Patient Management System (PMS) and to your email address (if you provide one). You can go online to check your warfarin dose and see past INR results as well. Automatic email reminders for your next INR test can also be emailed to you.
Your doctor is kept fully informed and still maintains overall responsibility for your care. Your doctor and your pharmacist work closely together with you to manage your INR blood test and your warfarin doses. However, you are always able to return to your doctor for your warfarin management if you would prefer.
How often will I need blood tests?
How often your blood is tested will depend on: how stable your INR results have been, whether your dose of warfarin has been changed recently; and/or recent changes in lifestyle factors, such as diet, other medications etc.
If your INR has been stable for some time, your blood test should be performed at least every four weeks.
If any of the above changes, then your blood test may have to be repeated more frequently.
How much does the service cost?
This is a free service (where funded by your DHB). Talk to your pharmacist or doctor for more information.