Heparin is a molecular substance widely used in the prevention of thrombus formation as well as treatment of patients with congenital or acquired diseases. It prevents thromboembolic complications that have been associated with morbidity, prolonged hospitalization and high mortality rates. The aim of our study is to analyse current knowledge on the mechanism of action and the role of heparin in surgical nursing practice in its classic or low molecular weight forms. We emphasize the significance of strict nursing protocols related with its use. This has been linked to prevention and better treatment of high risk patients for thromboembolic conditions. Heparin use has been extended to preoperative preparation of patients that discontinue their oral anticoagulation drugs as well as in major cardiothoracic operations. This type of operations can be safely performed due to heparin discovery and proper use. In this paper we also emphasize the syndrome of «heparin induced thrombocytopenia» that has been associated with a previous perioperative heparin use. Its management demands a high index of suscpition as it is a very dangerous condition if not early diagnosed. Proper heparin use from medical and nursing staff demands a thorough knowledge of its role and mechanism of action as well as possible complications and their proper management.
Keywords: Hemorrhage, hemostatic mechanism, thrombosis, heparin, surgical nursing.