Direct Oral Anticoagulants in the Real World: Insights Into Appropriate Prescribing and Medication Use

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Direct oral anticoagulants are convenient because of their fixed dosing and without laboratory monitoring. There are instructions on avoidance of moisture, no crushing of capsules, and administration with food for some direct oral anticoagulants. Whether patients adhere to this and are prescribed appropriate doses are unknown.


To assess direct oral anticoagulant dosing and medication use.


Patients ≥18 years old, receiving a direct oral anticoagulant for any diagnosis, were prospectively included. Nurses at our perioperative anticoagulation clinic helped patients complete a 12-item questionnaire.


Ninety-three consecutive patients were recruited. Forty-nine were on dabigatran, 18 on apixaban, and 26 were on rivaroxaban. Sixty-two patients (67%) received appropriate direct oral anticoagulant dosing and administered the medication correctly. Eighteen patients (19%) administered the direct oral anticoagulant properly but at an inappropriate dose. Thirteen patients (14%) received an appropriate dose but administered the direct oral anticoagulant inappropriately: 10 (11%) removed dabigatran from its packaging before administration (exposing it to moisture); 2 (2%) did not take rivaroxaban with food; and 1 (1%) crushed the dabigatran capsule.


Our study demonstrates a large variability in how direct oral anticoagulants are dosed, and how patients take them. Improved medication literacy around direct oral anticoagulants is needed. Our study highlights opportunities that nurses have to improve patients’ medication literacy.

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