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Keywords:

  • oral anticoagulant therapy;
  • anticoagulant control;
  • outpatient;
  • nurse-led service;
  • nurse-led practice

The safety and effectiveness of a nurse-led anticoagulant service

Aim. The aim of this study was to compare the safety and effectiveness of anticoagulant nurses and a consultant haematologist in managing anticoagulant patients in a hospital outpatient setting.

Background. Nurses are increasingly developing roles traditionally undertaken by medical staff. As a result nurse-led practice has expanded in many areas including anticoagulant services. Previous studies have attempted to demonstrate the effectiveness of using other professionals to manage anticoagulant clinics over short periods of time. This research evaluates the safety and effectiveness of a consultant-led and a nurse-led service over two sequential 18-month periods.

Research methods. A nonexperimental design was adopted. Data were collected retrospectively, from a random sample of 197 patients, who had been managed by both the consultant-led and nurse-led service. Two main outcome measures were selected: anticoagulant control between professional groups and interval between outpatient clinic appointments.

Results. No statistically significant difference in anticoagulant control was found between professional groups (P=0·137). There was evidence that patients attended anticoagulant clinics on significantly fewer occasions with nurse-led management (P < 0·0005).

Conclusion. At the department within which this research was conducted, anticoagulant nurses were found to be at least as safe and effective as the consultant haematologist in managing outpatient anticoagulant patients over the study period. These findings are of importance in both shaping the future provision of anticoagulant care and also contributing to the wider area in evaluating the impact of nurse-led practice within health care.