American journal of therapeutics

Using an electronic clinical decision support system to reduce the risk of epidural hematoma.

PMID 22878410


Epidural hematoma is a major complication that can occur when neuraxial anesthesia is used concurrently with newer anticoagulation and antiplatelet medications. In complex hospital environments, the opportunity of performing a neuraxial procedure in an anticoagulated patient or starting potent anticoagulants on a patient with existing epidural catheter still exists. We describe a technique to use an electronic clinical decision support ordering system that helps reduce this risk of epidural hematoma. Through a series of automated warnings that bring to light existing anticoagulant or antiplatelet medications at the time of doing the procedure or a secondary warning system to those practitioners initiating anticoagulant medications on a patient with an existing epidural, we hope to reduce the number of medication errors. Before initiating the alert system, we had 26 events noted in the medical chart over a 3-month period. We noted only 11 events after the initiation of the new alert systems and clinical decision support in a similar 3-month period. Using electronic clinical decision support systems can help reduce medication errors related to neuraxial anesthesia and anticoagulation medications in a large hospital system.