UW Health Honored for Medication Use Safety

Madison, Wisconsin - UW Health has won a prestigious national award for a program that has significantly reduced the number of patients who develop life-threatening blood clots. In addition to the medication safety and patient care improvements, UW Health saved an estimated $1 million because of the program.


The American Society of Health System Pharmacists (ASHP) this month announced UW Health as the winner of the 2011 Award for Excellence in Medication-Use Safety for an interdisciplinary program led by pharmacists.


The program was created in 2009 after the U.S. Surgeon General issued a call to action on prevention of venous thromboembolisms (VTE), including deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism.


The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says pulmonary embolism, when a DVT breaks apart and travels to the lungs, is the most preventable cause of death in U.S. hospitals.

UW Health pharmacists Philip Trapskin and Anne Rose lead the program that standardizes patient risk assessment and the interventions used to prevent blood clots. In the outpatient setting, the program focuses on the management of warfarin, an anti-coagulant that prevents and treats blood clots.

The program is responsible for a reduction of almost half in the number of post-surgery VTEs from 11.8 cases per thousand to 6.6 cases per thousand. Since the program began, the percentage of at-risk inpatients receiving preventive therapy increased to 93 percent, up from 78 percent.

"In 38 UW Health clinics, we were able to standardize documentation for warfarin management and train physicians and nurses to better manage warfarin," said Rose. "Anti-coagulants must be managed very carefully to keep patients within a targeted range. Before the program was put in place, patients were in range 63 percent of the time. That has increased to 71 percent, compared to the national average of 58 percent."

"The key to making the program so effective is the partnership of patients and front-line caregivers," said Trapskin.

An article published in the New England Journal of Medicine last month (November 24, 2011) reported that warfarin is the drug that most frequently leads to emergency hospitalizations for adults aged 65 and older. Each year, more than 33,000 emergency hospitalizations, about a third of all emergency hospitalizations for adverse drug effects for older adults, are related to warfarin.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, each year more than 2 million Americans suffer VTE and 200,000 patients die. Pulmonary embolism, one type of VTE, is the most common preventable cause of death in U.S. hospitals.

Date Published: 12/21/2011

News tag(s):  recognition

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