Burden of Inappropriate Prescription of Direct Oral Anticoagulants at Hospital Admission and Discharge in the Elderly: A Prospective Observational Multicenter Study

  • Antoine BruneauEmail author
  • Camille Schwab
  • Maud Anfosso
  • Christine Fernandez
  • Patrick Hindlet
Original Research Article



Direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs) were developed to overcome some of the limitations associated with vitamin K antagonists (VKAs), such as interindividual variability or the need for therapeutic drug monitoring. However, the complexity of DOAC dose regimens can still lead to dosing errors and potential bleeding-related or thromboembolic adverse events, especially in the elderly.


Our objective was to evaluate the rate of inappropriate preadmission DOAC prescriptions at hospital and to evaluate the ability of hospitals to correct them.


An observational prospective study was conducted in elderly patients (aged ≥ 65 years) hospitalized in six acute units of three Parisian university hospitals between February and July 2018. DOAC prescriptions prior to admission and at discharge were analyzed according to the guidelines in the summaries of product characteristics.


A total of 157 patients were included in the study, with a median age of 84 years (interquartile range [IQR] 77–89). The median glomerular filtration rate, determined with the Cockcroft–Gault equation, was 48 mL/min (IQR 35–61). Apixaban was the most frequently prescribed drug, mainly for atrial fibrillation. Overall, 48 (30.6%) and 34 (22.4%) prescriptions were inappropriate prior to admission and at discharge, respectively, showing a significant decrease (p < 0.001). Hospitals significantly corrected more inappropriate prescriptions (37.5%) than they generated (4.6%) (p < 0.05). The nature of the inappropriate prescribing was underdosing (68.8% and 76.5% prior to admission and at discharge, respectively), followed by overdosing (stable rate at almost 20%) and indication errors. No risk factors for inappropriate use were identified by our analysis.


One-third of DOAC preadmission prescriptions for elderly patients were inappropriate, indicating that a need remains to strengthen DOAC prescribing guidelines in ambulatory clinical practice. However, the rate of inappropriate prescriptions decreased at patient discharge. Future studies are needed to test actions to promote the proper use of DOACs.



The authors gratefully acknowledge the pharmacists from the six centers for their participation in this study. The kind assistance of Stella Ghouti, qualified translator is also gratefully acknowledged.

Compliance with Ethical Standards


No sources of funding were used to conduct this study or prepare this manuscript.

Conflict of interest

A. Bruneau, C. Schwab, M. Anfosso, C. Fernandez and P. Hindlet have no potential conflicts of interest that might be relevant to the contents of this manuscript.

Supplementary material

40266_2019_710_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (132 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 132 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Hôpitaux de Paris, Hôpital Saint-Antoine, Service de PharmacieParisFrance
  2. 2.Sorbonne Université, INSERM, Institut Pierre Louis d’Epidémiologie et de Santé Publique, IPLESP UMR-S1136ParisFrance
  3. 3.Hôpitaux de Paris, Hôpital Européen Georges Pompidou, Service de PharmacieParisFrance
  4. 4.Université Paris-Sud, Faculté de PharmacieChatenay-MalabryFrance

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