The fourth American College of Chest Physicians Consensus Conference on Antithrombotic Therapy recently published guidelines that included recommendations regarding the management of excessive anticoagulation. Limited data are available to support these recommendations.
To assess management and outcomes of excessive anticoagulation in a group model health maintenance organization, compare management with the published guidelines, and analyze the cost of treatment strategies.
A search of computerized laboratory information identified patients with an international normalized ratio (INR) of greater than 6.0 during the 9-month study. Pertinent data were collected through a retrospective medical record review. Information was concurrently collected for cost analyses.
The analysis included 301 episodes of excessive anticoagulation among 248 patients. Most (83%) episodes of elevated INRs were managed conservatively by a temporary discontinuation of warfarin sodium therapy until the INR was in a therapeutic range. Conservative management resulted in no sequelae in 212 (85.1%) of 249 episodes. Two episodes (0.8%) of major bleeding evolved in patients managed conservatively. No sequelae were documented in 23 (44%) of 52 episodes of phytonadione (vitamin K1) administration. Sixteen (31%) episodes of major bleeding were documented, but bleeding occurred before phytonadione administration in all cases. Administering phytonadione resulted in hospital admission for 3 patients—2 (3.8%) because of thromboembolism and 1 (1.9%) for the administration of heparin sodium. Cost-effectiveness analysis determined that treatment with phytonadione is 7 times more costly than conservative management when INRs are between 6.0 and 10.0.
Most episodes of excessive anticoagulation were not managed per consensus guidelines. The higher the INR, the more likely were interventions to adhere to the guidelines. Administering phytonadione to patients with a moderate elevation of INRs (6.0-10.0) may be unnecessary. Based on this study, conservative management is a viable option.