Direct oral anticoagulant-related medication incidents and pharmacists’ interventions in hospital in-patients: evaluation using reason’s accident causation theory

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Hazera Haque
  • Abdulrhman Alrowily
  • Bijal Tailor
  • Vicky Efue
  • Asif Sarwar

Colleges, School and Institutes


Background: Direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs) have revolutionised anticoagulant pharmacotherapy. However, DOAC-related medication incidents are known to be common.

Objective: To assess medication incidents associated with DOACs using an error theory and to analyse pharmacists’ contributions in minimising medication incidents in hospital in-patients.

Setting: A large University academic hospital in the West Midlands of England.

Methods: Medication incident data from the incident reporting system (48-months period) and pharmacists’ interventions data from the prescribing system (26-month period) relating to hospital in-patients were extracted. Reason’s Accident Causation Model was used to identify potential causality of the incidents. Pharmacists’ intervention data were thematically analysed.

Main outcome measure: (a) Frequency, type and potential causality of DOAC-related incidents; (b) nature of pharmacists’ interventions.

Results: A total of 812 reports were included in the study (124 medication incidents and 688 intervention reports). Missing drug/omission was the most common incident type (26.6%, n = 33) followed by wrong drug (16.1%, n = 20) and wrong dose/strength (11.3%, n = 14). A high majority (89.5%, n = 111) of medication incidents were caused by active failures. Patient discharge without anticoagulation supply and failure to restart DOACs post procedure/scan were commonly recurring themes. Pharmacists’ interventions most frequently related to changes in pharmacological strategy, including drug or dose changes (38.1%, n = 262). Impaired renal function was the most common reason for dose adjustments.

Conclusion: Prescribers’ active failure rather than system errors (i.e. latent failures) contributed to the majority of DOAC-related incidents. Reinforcement of guideline adherence, prescriber education, harnessing pharmacists’ roles and mandating renal function information in prescriptions are likely to improve patient safety.


Original languageEnglish
Journal International Journal of Clinical Pharmacy
Early online date2 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


  • Causes, DOAC, Medication incident, Pharmacist intervention, Reason’s accident causation model