Misdosing Common for Powerful Anti-Clotting Drugs

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Prescription Misdosing

Because of inaccuracies in prescribing, 42 percent of patients rushed to emergency rooms with symptoms of a heart attack received doses of powerful drugs intended stop clotting in coronary arteries outside of the recommended range, a new analysis by Duke Clinical Research Institute (DCRI) cardiologists has found.

While numerous clinical trials have proven that these drugs can save lives, correct dosing is crucial, the researchers said, since the therapeutic window is narrow. Too much of the drug can lead to bleeding episodes, while too little may be ineffective at stopping the clotting process.

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The Duke researchers believe that when evaluating these patients in emergency rooms, physicians should spend a little more time clarifying information, such as weight and kidney function, which are necessary for accurate dosing. The researchers also hope that the results of their analysis provide concrete steps to improve safety thereby increasing physician confidence in using these drugs on high risk patients, who have the most to gain.

"These drugs are clearly beneficial, and when dosed correctly, are also safe," said Duke cardiologist Karen Alexander, M.D., lead investigator of the study published Dec. 28, 2005, in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The drugs in question

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