Inpatient warfarin: Experience with a pharmacist-led anticoagulation management service in a tertiary care medical center

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The implementation of a pharmacist-led anticoagulation management service (AMS) and the clinical outcomes of inpatients receiving warfarin management are described.


An AMS was established at St. Mary's Medical Center (SMMC) in Duluth, Minnesota, in November 2003 at the request of orthopedic surgeons to manage warfarin for their patients postoperatively. The AMS was also available to other inpatients by physician request. All AMS pharmacists received didactic and experiential training. Each day, the managing pharmacist, usually the decentralized pharmacist, was responsible for checking the patients' International Normalized Ratio (INR); reviewing other pertinent laboratory test values, any medication changes, and vital signs; monitoring changes in the patients' clinical status, and writing an order for a warfarin dose. A database was created to help monitor patients managed by the AMS and to analyze monthly outcomes data. Clinical outcomes data were evaluated to identify areas of improvement for the AMS. All hospitalizations for patients who received anticoagulation therapy with warfarin managed by the AMS from January 1, 2006, through August 31, 2007, were analyzed. Primary endpoints, including thrombosis and bleeding complications during hospitalization, were identified for inclusion in the final hospital discharge data. Of the 2794 hospitalizations for patients managed by the AMS evaluated, 59 complications were identified. Of these, 14 (0.5%) were thrombosis events and 45 (1.6%) were bleeding events. INR results were also analyzed as secondary endpoints.


The evaluation of outcomes of the inpatient-based AMS at SMMC provided critical information to the anticoagulation subcommittee for consideration of quality-improvement efforts.

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