Anticoagulant drugs are widely used in hospital and community settings. Anticoagulation is the first-line treatment for venous thromboembolism, and anticoagulant drugs have an important role in the treatment and prevention of blood clots. However, maintaining the equilibrium between clotting and bleeding can be challenging and anticoagulants have been identified as a class of drug associated with preventable patient harm. Direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs) have become the first-line treatment for many patients requiring an anticoagulant, removing the burden of frequent tests and the many food and drug interactions associated with vitamin K antagonists such as warfarin sodium. However, DOACs have increased the complexity of decision-making regarding treatment, which also increases the risk of drug errors. This article discusses the uses, modes of action and potential side effects of anticoagulants, to improve nurses’ understanding and enable them to have an active role in limiting the risk of harm from these drugs.
Nursing Standard. 32, 23, 50-63. doi: 10.7748/ns.2018.e11060Correspondence
This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated softwareConflict of interest
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Received: 01 November 2017
Accepted: 30 November 2017
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