Hey, LondonAndy - it STILL IS - 12 years old - but it was revived by Marty.
Although anticoagulation clinics follow set protocols, I am concerned to hear that 'every three weeks' is adequate testing for any clinic. A study that I frequently quote, says that, if the INR is below 2 for as little as 10 days, a clot can form. I'm a lot more comfortable with weekly testing.
Both Roche (manufactures of CoaguChek XS, Vantus, and their other meter) and Coagusense (manufacturers of Coag-Sense PT1 and PT2) take great care to be certain that their strips accurately match the reagent values. They're betting their share of the market that they do - and, if found to be wrong, can potentially be forced to withdraw from the market entirely. With all that said, I've experienced a significant (up to a full point) difference between my Coag-Sense (and strips from a few different lots) to be lower than eith the CoaguChek XS or the labs - with no good explanation.
In my experience, I've purchased CoaguChek XS, CoaguChek S (now discontinued), InRatio (now discontinued), Protime (I thnk it's been discontinued), and my first Coag-Sense meter on Ebay. I've purchased most of my strips on eBay, although I was able to get some strips from Alere (which made the InRatio), and some for testing from Coagusense.
If the meters one eBay aren't sent with return privileges, I would avoid them. However, most meters are probably fine - the new meters are made with a number of fail-safe features. They're designed to do thousands of tests, over many years, at clinics and doctor's offices. Although home testing may be a good piece of the market, these meters are designed to work for many more tests than a user will probably ever take.
As far as being a self-tester (and self-managing my dosage), when I was in the hospitial, none of the doctors believed that a) I self-tested or b) I was able to self-manage. Apparently, we're a small minority of patients on warfarin, out of a much larger population of warfarin users.
Perhaps we should get monogrammed hats that can be worn in doctor's offices - this would say IST ISM (for I self-test, I self-manage).
So - keep pounding on Kaiser for a meter. You don't necessarily have to go to a medical distributor for your device (you can probably buy a good one on eBay for less money), and probably only buy around 50 strips at a time -- this way, you'll be pretty confident that you won't have expired strips that you haven't used before your supply runs out.
You can even try to convince Kaiser that you think that you may be at risk of COVID-19, and that you'd rather test at home than take the risk for you, and the clinic tech, by testing at home. Who knows? This reasoning may work on them.
OK - the thread has sprung back into life....