Bleeding time measures the length of time that bleeding continues after a standardized wound is made on the forearm or ear lobe. Normal bleeding time is largely dependant upon both the number and function of platelets. Bleeding time is usually within a normal range when the platelet count is greater than 100,000 per microliter.
A number of factors effect bleeding time results. A patient history of: von Willebrand's disease, thrombcytopenia, inherited platelet dysfunction, recent NSAID or antihistamine use can all prolong bleeding time.
Using the ear lobe method, a normal bleeding time is between 1 and 4 minutes. Using the forearm method, a normal bleeding time is between 2 and 9 minutes. It may not be possible to acquire accurate measurement in elders due to subcutaneous bleeding. If bleeding continues longer than 15 minutes, the test should be discontinued. The results should be reported as >15 minutes and an appropriate pressure dressing should be applied.
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