Extended International Normalized Ratio testing intervals for warfarin-treated patients
© 2018 International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis Essentials Warfarin typically requires International Normalized Ratio (INR) testing at least every 4 weeks. We implemented extended INR testing for stable warfarin patients in six anticoagulation clinics. Use of extended INR testing increased from 41.8% to 69.3% over the 3 year study. Use of extended INR testing appeared safe and effective. Summary: Background A previous single-center randomized trial suggested that patients with stable International Normalized Ratio (INR) values could safely receive INR testing as infrequently as every 12 weeks. Objective To test the success of implementation of an extended INR testing interval for stable warfarin patients in a practice-based, multicenter collaborative of anticoagulation clinics. Methods At six anticoagulation clinics, patients were identified as being eligible for extended INR testing on the basis of prior INR value stability and minimal warfarin dose changes between 2014 and 2016. We assessed the frequency with which anticoagulation clinic providers recommended an extended INR testing interval (> 5 weeks) to eligible patients. We also explored safety outcomes for eligible patients, including next INR values, bleeding events, and emergency department visits. Results At least one eligible period for extended INR testing was identified in 890 of 3362 (26.5%) warfarin-treated patients. Overall, the use of extended INR testing in eligible patients increased from 41.8% in the first quarter of 2014 to 69.3% in the fourth quarter of 2016. The number of subsequent out-of-range next INR values were similar between eligible patients who did and did not have an extended INR testing interval (27.3% versus 28.4%, respectively). The numbers of major bleeding events were not different between the two groups, but rates of clinically relevant non-major bleeding (0.02 per 100 patient-years versus 0.09 per 100 patient-years) and emergency department visits (0.07 per 100 patient-years versus 0.19 per 100 patient-years) were lower for eligible patients with extended INR testing intervals than for those with non-extended INR testing intervals. Conclusions Extended INR testing for stable warfarin patients can be successfully and safely implemented in diverse, practice-based anticoagulation clinic settings.