Improving Adherence to Practice Guidelines for Anticoagulation in Patients Receiving Neuraxial Anesthesia Using an Electronic Order Entry Alert System

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Epidural analgesia is frequently used to alleviate postoperative pain. Though rare, epidural hematoma continues to be a feared complication of neuraxial analgesia. The risk of epidural hematoma is likely increased when certain regimens are used for prophylaxis/treatment of venous thromboembolism. To help decrease the risk, we developed an alert in our electronic medical record to assist providers with adherence to published guidelines addressing neuraxial analgesia and anticoagulation.


Patient data were collected retrospectively 3 months before and 3 months after the initiation of the computerized alert to assess the effectiveness of the alert. Patients were included if they had a procedure code associated with epidural analgesia. Pregnant patients and children were excluded. Type and frequency of antithrombotic medications were recorded for comparison to published practice guidelines.


Using Poisson regression to describe the data, patients with epidurals after the best practice alert observed a 61% decrease in the expected number of days of exposure to inappropriate doses of anticoagulation versus patients treated before implementation of the alert.


Unapproved antithrombotic administration was significantly reduced after initiation of the alert system. This simple electronic alert was found to have a protective effect for patients receiving both anticoagulation and epidural analgesia.

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