CC BY 4.0 · Appl Clin Inform 2022; 13(04): 845-856
DOI: 10.1055/a-1910-4339
AIDH Summit 2022

The Effect of Digitization on the Safe Management of Anticoagulants

Jodie A. Austin
1   Centre for Health Services Research, Faculty of Medicine, The University of Queensland, Herston, Brisbane, Australia
Michael A. Barras
2   School of Pharmacy, The University of Queensland, PACE Precinct, Woolloongabba, Brisbane, Australia
3   Pharmacy Department, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Woolloongabba, Brisbane, Australia
Leanna S. Woods
1   Centre for Health Services Research, Faculty of Medicine, The University of Queensland, Herston, Brisbane, Australia
4   Digital Health Cooperative Research Centre, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Clair M. Sullivan
1   Centre for Health Services Research, Faculty of Medicine, The University of Queensland, Herston, Brisbane, Australia
5   Metro North Hospital and Health Service, Department of Health, Queensland Government, Herston, Queensland, Australia
› Author Affiliations


Background Anticoagulants are high-risk medications and are a common cause of adverse events of hospitalized inpatients. The incidence of adverse events involving anticoagulants has remained relatively unchanged over the past two decades, suggesting that novel approaches are required to address this persistent issue. Electronic medication management systems (eMMSs) offer strategies to help reduce medication incidents and adverse drug events, yet poor system design can introduce new error types.

Objective Our objective was to evaluate the effect of the introduction of an electronic medical record (EMR) on the quality and safety of therapeutic anticoagulation management.

Methods A retrospective, observational pre-/poststudy was conducted, analyzing real-world data across five hospital sites in a single health service. Four metrics were compared 1-year pre- and 1-year post-EMR implementation. They included clinician-reported medication incidents, toxic pathology results, hospital-acquired bleeding complications (HACs), and rate of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia. Further subanalyses of patients experiencing HACs in the post-EMR period identified key opportunities for intervention to maximize safety and quality of anticoagulation within an eMMS.

Results A significant reduction in HACs was observed in the post-EMR implementation period (mean [standard deviation [SD]] =12.1 [4.4]/month vs. mean [SD] = 7.8 [3.5]/month; p = 0.01). The categorization of potential EMR design enhancements found that new automated clinical decision support or improved pathology result integration would be suitable to mitigate future HACs in an eMMS. There was no significant difference in the mean monthly clinician-reported incident rates for anticoagulants or the rate of toxic pathology results in the pre- versus post-EMR implementation period. A 62.5% reduction in the cases of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia was observed in the post-EMR implementation period.

Conclusion The implementation of an EMR improves clinical care outcomes for patients receiving anticoagulation. System design plays a significant role in mitigating the risks associated with anticoagulants and consideration must be given to optimizing eMMSs.

Protection of Human and Animal Subjects

Ethics approval to undertake this study was sought and granted by the organization's Human Research Ethics Committee (Ref: HREC/2019/QMS/54368) on 25th June 2019 for low-risk research involving humans.

Publication History

Received: 29 June 2022

Accepted: 21 July 2022

Accepted Manuscript online:
27 July 2022

Article published online:
14 September 2022

© 2022. The Author(s). This is an open access article published by Thieme under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, permitting unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction so long as the original work is properly cited. (

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