Hemorrhagic Complications in Emergency Department Patients Who Are Receiving Dabigatran Compared With Warfarin

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Study objective:

Dabigatran is a reversible direct thrombin inhibitor recently approved for stroke prevention in patients with atrial fibrillation. An increasing number of patients receiving dabigatran present to the emergency department (ED) with bleeding complications. Unlike vitamin K antagonists, there are no accepted reversal agents for dabigatran and the data on course and management of bleeding complications are limited. The study objective is to describe the course of bleeding complications in patients admitted through the ED who are prescribed dabigatran in comparison with warfarin therapy.


This was a prospective observational study of ED patients under treatment with dabigatran or warfarin who were admitted with bleeding complications during a 6-month period. Patient demographics, laboratory results, bleeding site, interventions, and outcomes are reported.


There were 15 and 123 patients admitted with dabigatran and warfarin-induced bleeding complications, respectively. Of the warfarin patients, 25 charts were randomly chosen for extraction. Patients with dabigatran-induced bleeding had a shorter length of stay (3.5 versus 6.0 days) and were older (77 versus 70 years). Patients receiving dabigatran were more likely to have gastrointestinal bleeding (80% versus 48%) and less likely to have intracranial bleeding (0% versus 32%) than those receiving warfarin. Of patients with dabigatran-induced bleeding, 53% presented with an acute kidney injury.


Our patients with dabigatran-induced bleeding had a more benign clinical course with a shorter length of stay compared with patients with warfarin-induced bleeding. As was the case in previous published reports, there were fewer intracranial hemorrhages in patients receiving dabigatran than warfarin. Sustaining an acute kidney injury potentially predisposes patients to bleeding while receiving dabigatran.

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