Computers as Safe as Medical Experts

Prescribing the right oral dose of anticoagulant to patients, even for experienced medical staff, can be problematic as individuals differ 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.

Results from a five-year clinical trial have shown that computer-assisted dosage is as good, if not better, at prescribing the correct dosage to prolong the International Normalized Ratio (INR) in patients as dosages given by 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 from University of Manchester, who co-ordinated the international team. “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.”

The study was carried out in 32 medical centres across the European Union and associated countries involved more than 13,000 patients. It analysed nearly 400,000 INR tests, divided evenly between manual and computer-assisted dosage.

The percentage of manual tests to give the correct INR was 64.7%, compared to 65.9% for computer-assisted dosage. In terms of safety, the number of INR tests that resulted in clinical complications was 7.6% lower in all clinical groups with computer-assisted dosage.

MEDICA.de; Source: University of Manchester