Delivery of optimized inpatient anticoagulation therapy: consensus statement from the anticoagulation forum

Ann Pharmacother. 2013 May;47(5):714-24. doi: 10.1345/aph.1R634. Epub 2013 Apr 12.


Objective: To provide recommendations for optimized anticoagulant therapy in the inpatient setting and outline broad elements that need to be in place for effective management of anticoagulant therapy in hospitalized patients; the guidelines are designed to promote optimization of patient clinical outcomes while minimizing the risks for potential anticoagulation-related errors and adverse events.

Data sources: The medical literature was reviewed using MEDLINE (1946-January 2013), EMBASE (1980-January 2013), and PubMed (1947-January 2013) for topics and key words including, but not limited to, standards of practice, national guidelines, patient safety initiatives, and regulatory requirements pertaining to anticoagulant use in the inpatient setting. Non-English-language publications were excluded. Specific MeSH terms used include algorithms, anticoagulants/administration and dosage/adverse effects/therapeutic use, clinical protocols/standards, decision support systems, drug monitoring/methods, humans, inpatients, efficiency/ organizational, outcome and process assessment (health care), patient care team/organization and administration, program development/standards, quality improvement/organization and administration, thrombosis/ drug therapy, thrombosis/prevention and control, risk assessment/standards, patient safety/standards, and risk management/methods.

Study selection and data extraction: Because of this document's scope, the medical literature was searched using a variety of strategies. When possible, recommendations are supported by available evidence; however, because this paper deals with processes and systems of care, high-quality evidence (eg, controlled trials) is unavailable. In these cases, recommendations represent the consensus opinion of all authors and are endorsed by the Board of Directors of the Anticoagulation Forum, an organization dedicated to optimizing anticoagulation care. The board is composed of physicians, pharmacists, and nurses with demonstrated expertise and experience in the management of patients receiving anticoagulation therapy.

Data synthesis: Recommendations for delivering optimized inpatient anticoagulation therapy were developed collaboratively by the authors and are summarized in 8 key areas: (1) process, (2) accountability, (3) integration, (4) standards of practice, (5) provider education and competency, (6) patient education, (7) care transitions, and (8) outcomes. Recommendations are intended to inform the development of coordinated care systems containing elements with demonstrated benefit in improvement of anticoagulation therapy outcomes. Recommendations for delivering optimized inpatient anticoagulation therapy are intended to apply to all clinicians involved in the care of hospitalized patients receiving anticoagulation therapy.

Conclusions: Anticoagulants are high-risk medications associated with a significant rate of medication errors among hospitalized patients. Several national organizations have introduced initiatives to reduce the likelihood of patient harm associated with the use of anticoagulants. Health care organizations are under increasing pressure to develop systems to ensure the safe and effective use of anticoagulants in the inpatient setting. This document provides consensus guidelines for anticoagulant therapy in the inpatient setting and serves as a companion document to prior guidelines relevant for outpatients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Anticoagulants / administration & dosage*
  • Clinical Competence
  • Clinical Protocols*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Inpatients*
  • Inservice Training / organization & administration
  • Medication Therapy Management / organization & administration*
  • Medication Therapy Management / standards
  • Patient Education as Topic / organization & administration
  • Patient Transfer / organization & administration
  • Pharmacy Service, Hospital / organization & administration*
  • Pharmacy Service, Hospital / standards
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic


  • Anticoagulants