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Computers as safe as medical experts in prescribing blood thinning drugs
Date:6/18/2008

The largest ever study into the administration of blood thinning drugs, principally Warfarin, has concluded that dosages calculated by computer are at least as safe and reliable as those provided by expert medical professionals.

Increasing evidence of the value of these anticoagulant drugs in a wide range of clinical disorders such as abnormal heart rhythm, or atrial fibrillation, has led to a rapid rise in their use around the world.

However, prescribing the right oral dose of anticoagulant to patients, even for experienced medical staff, can be problematic as individuals differ greatly in response to a given dose and a single patient's response can change over the period of an illness. Too high a dose for an individual and the blood becomes too thin and can lead to internal bleeding, too low and the blood clots too readily.

Previous studies supporting the use of computer-assisted dosage have depended solely on laboratory results and have not been sufficiently large to determine whether prolongation of normal blood clotting measured as the 'international normalised ratio' or INR resulted in clinical benefit and improved safety.

But now results from the five-year clinical trial have shown that computer-assisted dosage is as good, if not better, at prescribing the correct dosage to prolong the INR in patients as dosages given by expert medical professionals.

"The need for computer assistance arises from the massive demand for oral anticoagulants following their success at treating an increasing number of thrombotic and embolic conditions," said Professor Leon Poller, who co-ordinated the international team with its Central Facility at Manchester's Faculty of Life Sciences.

"This increased demand has been overwhelming and stretched medical facilities worldwide to their limits. Computer dosage was introduced as a way to meet this demand but its safety and effectiveness had not previously been established."'/>"/>

Contact: Mikaela Sitford
Mikaela.Sitford@manchester.ac.uk
01-612-752-111
University of Manchester
Source:Eurekalert

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