Antithrombotic therapy practices in US hospitals in an era of practice guidelines

Arch Intern Med. 2005 Jul 11;165(13):1458-64. doi: 10.1001/archinte.165.13.1458.


Background: Antithrombotic therapy is efficacious for the prevention of thromboembolic disease, but it necessitates careful risk-benefit assessment.

Methods: Antithrombotic therapy data were retrospectively collected from inpatient medical records at 38 US hospitals. Patients treated for atrial fibrillation, acute myocardial infarction, deep vein thrombosis, or pulmonary embolism and patients given prophylaxis for total knee replacement, total hip replacement, or hip fracture surgery between July 1, 2000, and June 30, 2003, were randomly selected.

Results: The medical records of 3778 patients (53.3% men) were included. The mean patient age was 66.1 years. Of patients with atrial fibrillation at high risk for stroke, only 54.7% received warfarin sodium, and 20.6% received neither aspirin nor warfarin. Of patients with acute myocardial infarction, only 75.5% received aspirin on hospital arrival. After orthopedic surgery procedures, only 85.6% of patients received prophylaxis with a parenteral anticoagulant agent or warfarin. In 49.4% of patients with deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, or both, unfractionated or low-molecular-weight heparin use was discontinued before an international normalized ratio of 2.0 or greater was achieved for 2 consecutive days. Patients with deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism were rarely discharged from the hospital with bridge therapy (an injectable anticoagulant agent plus warfarin), although the length of hospitalization was significantly shorter than if discharged taking warfarin alone (4.0 vs 8.1 days; P < .001).

Conclusions: A significant percentage of hospitalized patients do not receive adequate antithrombotic therapy for the primary and secondary prevention of thromboembolic disease.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Anticoagulants / therapeutic use*
  • Aspirin / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Fibrinolytic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Inpatients / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Thromboembolism / epidemiology
  • Thromboembolism / prevention & control*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Warfarin / therapeutic use


  • Anticoagulants
  • Fibrinolytic Agents
  • Warfarin
  • Aspirin