A patient diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism is on an I.V. heparin infusion. What side effect should the nurse closely monitor for?

Tarry stools


•Heparin is an anticoagulant that inhibits the conversion of prothrombin to thrombin. Patients on an anticoagulant drug such as heparin are at an increased risk for bleeding.

•Signs of bleeding include ecchymoses, tarry stools, mucosal bleeding, and pink/red tinged urine.

•Shortness of breath, hyperglycemia, and lethargy are not side effects of heparin.

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