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1.  A New Generation Prothrombin Time Method for INR 
Prothrombin time (PT) is the leading test for monitoring oral anticoagulation therapy (OAT). We sought to determine INR taking into account only active coagulation factors FII, FVII and FX without inhibition in patient plasmas and calibrator kits.
We measured PT using a combined thromboplastin reagent. The calculation was based on a new PT method, which measures active coagulation factors (F II, F VII, FX) and corrects the errors caused by inactive coagulation factors.
On this basis, an INR result with and without inhibition for individual patient samples was also calculated and applied to 200 plasma samples obtained from OAT patients. Conspicuous variation in inhibition between the four calibration kits was noted. The kinetics of this inhibition was closest to a noncompetitive pattern.
The need of correction for INRs of single patients increases with higher INRs. At the same level of patient INRs the coagulation inhibiton varies markedly.
It has been known that different thromboplastin reagents possess variable sensitivities, but this may depend on sensitivity in inactive coagulation factors. PT methods today measure the sum of active coagulation factors and inhibition of inactive coagulation factors. ISI calibrators contain variable amounts of inactive coagulation factors, which renders harmonisation of INR results.
Application of the Acf-PT (INRAcf) presented in this work develops the PT methodology to measure the true coagulation activity in vivo for patient warfarin therapy without inhibition. INRInh can evidently also be used for the diagnostics and follow-up of certain liver diseases.
doi:10.2174/1874104500802010011
PMCID: PMC2709469  PMID: 19662139
PT; prothrombin time; oral anticoagulant therapy; Pivka.
2.  Factors determining patients’ intentions to use point-of-care testing medical devices for self-monitoring: the case of international normalized ratio self-testing 
Purpose
To identify factors that determine patients’ intentions to use point-of-care medical devices, ie, portable coagulometer devices for self-testing of the international normalized ratio (INR) required for ongoing monitoring of blood-coagulation intensity among patients on long-term oral anticoagulation therapy with vitamin K antagonists, eg, warfarin.
Methods
A cross-sectional study that applied the technology-acceptance model through a self-completed questionnaire, which was administered to a convenience sample of 125 outpatients attending outpatient anticoagulation services at a district general hospital in London, UK. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, factor analyses, and structural equation modeling.
Results
The participants were mainly male (64%) and aged ≥ 71 years (60%). All these patients were attending the hospital outpatient anticoagulation clinic for INR testing; only two patients were currently using INR self-testing, 84% of patients had no knowledge about INR self-testing using a portable coagulometer device, and 96% of patients were never offered the option of the INR self-testing. A significant structural equation model explaining 79% of the variance in patients’ intentions to use INR self-testing was observed. The significant predictors that directly affected patients’ intention to use INR self-testing were the perception of technology (β = 0.92, P < 0.001), trust in doctor (β = −0.24, P = 0.028), and affordability (β = 0.15, P = 0.016). In addition, the perception of technology was significantly affected by trust in doctor (β = 0.43, P = 0.002), age (β = −0.32, P < 0.001), and affordability (β = 0.23, P = 0.013); thereby, the intention to use INR self-testing was indirectly affected by trust in doctor (β = 0.40), age (β = −0.29), and affordability (β = 0.21) via the perception of technology.
Conclusion
Patients’ intentions to use portable coagulometers for INR self-testing are affected by patients’ perceptions about the INR testing device, the cost of device, trust in doctors/clinicians, and the age of the patient, which need to be considered prior to any intervention involving INR self-testing by patients. Manufacturers should focus on increasing the affordability of INR testing devices for patients’ self-testing and on the potential role of medical practitioners in supporting use of these medical devices as patients move from hospital to home testing.
doi:10.2147/PPA.S38328
PMCID: PMC3536357  PMID: 23300344
oral anticoagulation; INR self-testing; technology-acceptance model; trust in doctor; home testing; affordability; structural equation modeling
3.  A sensitivity comparison of the Quick and Owren prothrombin time methods in oral anticoagulant therapy 
Hematology Reviews  2009;1(2):e15.
Prothrombin time (PT) is the leading test for monitoring oral anticoagulation therapy (OAT). According to the World Health Organization recommendation, International Normalized Ratio (INR) results obtained from the same patient samples with the major PT methods (Quick and Owren) should be the same when the therapeutic range is the same. In our study blood samples were obtained from 207 OAT patients. We analyzed the samples using two Quick and two Owren PT (combined thromboplastin) reagents for INR and assessed the sensitivity and true coagulation activity using a new-generation PT method. The INR values with the Quick PT and Owren PT methods were very similar around the normal range, while unacceptable differences were seen within the therapeutic range and at higher INR values. The Quick PT results as INR are clearly lower than those given by Owren PT and the difference increases toward higher INR. The new PT method functions well with both Owren PT reagents, and we can calculate the true active INR. The Quick PT methods show no sensitivity to coagulation inhibition measurement. The harmonization of the INR is an important goal for the safety of OAT patients. More accurate INR results reduce morbidity and mortality, and the therapeutic ranges should be similar worldwide. In this study we found unacceptable differences in INR results produced by the two PT methods. The new method showed a lack of sensitivity to Quick PT. For the global harmonization of OAT therapy and for INR accuracy only the more sensitive Owren PT method should be used.
doi:10.4081/hr.2009.e15
PMCID: PMC3222250
International Normalized Ratio; oral anticoagulant therapy; prothrombin time; warfarin.
4.  Emergency reversal of anticoagulation: from theory to real use of prothrombin complex concentrates. A retrospective Italian experience 
Blood Transfusion  2012;10(1):87-94.
Background
Prothrombin Complex Concentrates (PCC) are administered to normalise blood coagulation in patients receiving oral anticoagulant therapy (OAT). Rapid reversal of OAT is essential in case of major bleeding, internal haemorrhage or surgery.
The primary end-point was to evaluate whether PCC in our hospital were being used in compliance with international and national guidelines for the reversal of OAT on an emergency basis. The secondary end-point was to evaluate the efficacy and safety of PCC.
Materials and methods
All patients receiving OAT who required rapid reversal anticoagulation because they had to undergo emergency surgery or urgent invasive techniques following an overdose of oral anticoagulants were eligible for this retrospective observational study.
Results
Forty-seven patients receiving OAT who needed rapid reverse of anticoagulation were enrolled in our study. The patients were divided in two groups: (i) group A (n=23), patients needed haemostatic treatment before neurosurgery after a head injury and (ii) group B (n=24), patients with critical haemorrhage because of an overdose of oral anticoagulants. The International Normalised Ratio (INR) was checked before and after infusion of the PCC. The mean INR in group A was 2.7 before and 1.43 after infusion of the PCC; in group B the mean INR of 6.58, before and 1.92 after drug infusion. The use of vitamin K, fresh-frozen plasma and red blood cells was also considered. During our study 22 patients died, but no adverse effects following PCC administration were recorded.
Discussion
In our study three-factor-PCC was found to be effective and safe in rapidly reversing the effects of OAT, although it was not always administered in accordance with international or national guidelines. The dose, time of administration and monitoring often differed from those recommended. In the light of these findings, we advocate the use of single standard protocol to guide the correct use of PCC in each hospital ward.
doi:10.2450/2011.0030-11
PMCID: PMC3258994  PMID: 22044952
prothrombin complex concentrate; oral anticoagulant therapy; reversal of anticoagulation guidelines
5.  Emergency reversal of anticoagulation with a three-factor prothrombin complex concentrate in patients with intracranial haemorrhage 
Blood Transfusion  2011;9(2):148-155.
Background
Intracranial haemorrhage is a serious and potentially fatal complication of oral anticoagulant therapy. Prothrombin complex concentrates can substantially shorten the time needed to reverse the effects of oral anticoagulants. The aim of this study was to determine the efficacy and safety of a prothrombin complex concentrate for rapid reversal of oral anticoagulant therapy in patients with intracranial haemorrhage.
Methods
Patients receiving oral anticoagulant therapy and suffering from acute intracranial haemorrhage were eligible for this prospective cohort study if their International Normalised Ratio (INR) was higher than or equal to 2.0. The prothrombin complex concentrate was infused at doses of 35–50 IU/kg, stratified according to the initial INR.
Results
Forty-six patients (25 males; mean age: 75 years; range 38–92 years) were enrolled. The median INR at presentation was 3.5 (range, 2–9). At 30 minutes after administration of the prothrombin complex concentrate, the median INR was 1.3 (range, 0.9–3), and the INR then declined to less than or equal to 1.5 in 75% of patients. The benefit of the prothrombin complex concentrate was maintained for a long time, since the median INR remained lower than or equal to 1.5 (median, 1.16; range, 0.9–2.2) at 96% of all post-infusion time-points up to 96 hours. No thrombotic complications or significant adverse events were observed during hospitalisation; six patients (13%) died, but none of these deaths was judged to be related to administration of the prothrombin complex concentrate.
Conclusions
Prothrombin complex concentrates are an effective, rapid and safe treatment for the urgent reversal of oral anticoagulation in patients with intracranial haemorrhage. Broader use of prothrombin complex concentrates in this clinical setting appears to be appropriate.
doi:10.2450/2011.0065-10
PMCID: PMC3096857  PMID: 21251465
intracranial haemorrhage; oral anticoagulants; prothrombin complex concentrates
6.  Safety and effectiveness of point-of-care monitoring devices in patients on oral anticoagulant therapy: a meta-analysis 
Open Medicine  2007;1(3):e131-e146.
Background
Point-of-care devices (POCDs) for monitoring long-term oral anticoagulation therapy (OAT) may be a useful alternative to laboratory-based international normalized ratio [INR] testing and clinical management.
Purpose
To determine clinical outcomes of the use of POCDs for OAT management by performing a meta-analysis. Previous meta-analyses on POCDs have serious limitations.
Data sources
PubMed, the Cochrane Library, DIALOG, MEDLINE, EMBASE, BIOSIS Previews and PASCAL databases.
Study selection
Randomized controlled trials of patients on long-term OAT, comparing anticoagulation monitoring by POCD with laboratory INR testing and clinical management.
Data extraction
1) rates of major hemorrhage; 2) rates of major thromboembolic events; 3) percentage of time that the patient is maintained within the therapeutic range; 4) deaths. Outcomes were compared using a random-effects model. Summary measures of rates were determined. The quality of studies was assessed using the Jadad scale.
Data synthesis
Seventeen articles (16 studies) were included. Data analysis showed that POCD INR testing reduced the risk of major thromboembolic events (odds ratio [OR] = 0.51; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.35–0.74), was associated with fewer deaths (OR = 0.58; 95% CI = 0.38–0.89), and resulted in better INR control compared with laboratory INR testing. No significant difference between the two management modalities with respect to odds ratios for major hemorrhage was found.
Limitations
Quality scores varied from 1 to 3 (out of a maximum of 5). Only 3 studies defined how thromboembolic events would be diagnosed, casting doubt on the accuracy of the reporting of thromboembolic events. The studies suggest that only 24% of patients are good candidates for self-testing and self-management. Compared with patients managed with laboratory-based monitoring, POCD patients underwent INR testing at a much higher frequency and received much more intensive education on OAT management.
Conclusions
The use of POCDs is safe and may be more effective than laboratory-based monitoring. However, most patients are not good candidates for self-testing and self-management. Patient education and frequency of testing may be the most important factors in successful PODC management. Definitive conclusions about the clinical benefits provided by self-testing and self-management require more rigorously designed trials.
PMCID: PMC3113217  PMID: 21673942
7.  Use of Prothrombin Complex Concentrate for Vitamin K Antagonist Reversal before Surgical Treatment of Intracranial Hemorrhage 
Background:
Oral anticoagulant therapy (OAT) is used to prevent/treat thromboembolism. Major bleeding is common in patients on OAT; eg, warfarin increases intracranial hemorrhage (ICH) risk.
Case:
A 71-year-old male on warfarin (to reduce stroke risk) presented at Accident and Emergency Minor Injuries Unit with headache after reportedly sounding ‘drunk’. On triage, the patient appeared lucid and well. However, International Normalized Ratio (INR) was 4.1. Head computed tomography (CT) indicated a large right-sided subdural hematoma. Prothrombin complex concentrate (PCC; Beriplex® P/N, CSL Behring) with vitamin K normalized the INR within minutes of administration. The patient underwent neurosurgery without complications, and was discharged after 5 days, with no residual neurological symptoms.
Conclusions:
ICH patients can present with no neurological signs. In OAT patients with headache, INR must be established; if ≥3.0, normalization of INR and head CT are essential. PCC is the best option to rapidly reverse anticoagulation and correct INR pre-surgery.
doi:10.4137/CCRep.S6433
PMCID: PMC3096433  PMID: 21769259
anticoagulation reversal; Beriplex® P/N; computed tomography; International Normalized Ratio; intracranial hemorrhage; prothrombin complex concentrate
8.  Comparison of laboratory and immediate diagnosis of coagulation for patients under oral anticoagulation therapy before dental surgery 
Head & Face Medicine  2005;1:12.
Background
Dental surgery can be carried out on patients under oral anticoagulation therapy by using haemostyptic measures. The aim of the study was a comparative analysis of coagulation by laboratory methods and immediate patient diagnosis on the day of the planned procedure.
Methods
On the planned day of treatment, diagnoses were carried out on 298 patients for Prothrombin Time (PT), the International Normalised Ratio (INR), and Partial Thromboplastin Time (PTT). The decision to proceed with treatment was made with an INR < 4.0 according to laboratory results.
Results
Planned treatment did not go ahead in 2.7% of cases. Postoperatively, 14.8% resulted in secondary bleeding, but were able to be treated as out-patients. 1.7% had to be treated as in-patients. The average error between the immediate diagnosis and the laboratory method: 95% confidence interval was -5.8 ± 15.2% for PT, -2.7 ± 17.9 s for PTT and 0.23 ± 0.80 for INR. The limits for concordance were 9.4 and -21.1% for PT, 15.2 and -20.5 s for PTT, and 1.03 and -0.57 for INR.
Conclusion
This study showed a clinically acceptable concordance between laboratory and immediate diagnosis for INR. Concordance for PT and PTT did not meet clinical requirements. For patients under oral anticoagulation therapy, patient INR diagnosis enabled optimisation of the treatment procedure when planning dental surgery.
doi:10.1186/1746-160X-1-12
PMCID: PMC1315351  PMID: 16316464
9.  Canalization effect in the coagulation cascade and the interindividual variability of oral anticoagulant response. a simulation Study 
Background
Increasing the predictability and reducing the rate of side effects of oral anticoagulant treatment (OAT) requires further clarification of the cause of about 50% of the interindividual variability of OAT response that is currently unaccounted for. We explore numerically the hypothesis that the effect of the interindividual expression variability of coagulation proteins, which does not usually result in a variability of the coagulation times in untreated subjects, is unmasked by OAT.
Results
We developed a stochastic variant of the Hockin-Mann model of the tissue factor coagulation pathway, using literature data for the variability of coagulation protein levels in the blood of normal subjects. We simulated in vitro coagulation and estimated the Prothrombin Time and the INR across a model population. In a model of untreated subjects a "canalization effect" can be observed in that a coefficient of variation of up to 33% of each protein level results in a simulated INR of 1 with a clinically irrelevant dispersion of 0.12. When the mean and the standard deviation of vitamin-K dependent protein levels were reduced by 80%, corresponding to the usual Warfarin treatment intensity, the simulated INR was 2.98 ± 0.48, a clinically relevant dispersion, corresponding to a reduction of the canalization effect.
Then we combined the Hockin-Mann stochastic model with our previously published model of population response to Warfarin, that takes into account the genetical and the phenotypical variability of Warfarin pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics. We used the combined model to evaluate the coagulation protein variability effect on the variability of the Warfarin dose required to reach an INR target of 2.5. The dose variance when removing the coagulation protein variability was 30% lower. The dose was mostly related to the pretreatment levels of factors VII, X, and the tissue factor pathway inhibitor (TFPI).
Conclusions
It may be worth exploring in experimental studies whether the pretreatment levels of coagulation proteins, in particular VII, X and TFPI, are predictors of the individual warfarin dose, even though, maybe due to a canalization-type effect, their effect on the INR variance in untreated subjects appears low.
doi:10.1186/1742-4682-8-37
PMCID: PMC3215663  PMID: 22082142
Interindividual variability; stochastic model; oral anticoagulant treatment; INR; coagulation cascade; canalization
10.  Investigating biomedical research literature in the blogosphere: a case study of diabetes and glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c)*†‡ 
Objective:
The research investigated the relationship between biomedical literature and blogosphere discussions about diabetes in order to explore the role of Web 2.0 technologies in disseminating health information. Are blogs that cite biomedical literature perceived as more trustworthy in the blogosphere, as measured by their popularity and interconnections with other blogs?
Methods:
Web mining, social network analysis, and content analysis were used to analyze a large sample of blogs to determine how often biomedical literature is referenced in blogs on diabetes and how these blogs interconnect with others in the health blogosphere.
Results:
Approximately 10% of the 3,005 blogs analyzed cite at least 1 article from the dataset of 2,246 articles. The most influential blogs, as measured by in-links, are written by diabetes patients and tend not to cite biomedical literature. In general, blogs that do not cite biomedical literature tend not to link to blogs that do.
Conclusions:
There is a large communication gap between health professional and personal diabetes blogs. Personal blogs do not tend to link to blogs by health professionals. Diabetes patients may be turning to the blogosphere for reasons other than authoritative information. They may be seeking emotional support and exchange of personal stories.
doi:10.3163/1536-5050.100.1.007
PMCID: PMC3257491  PMID: 22272157
11.  Self-monitoring of oral anticoagulation: does it work outside trial conditions? 
Journal of Clinical Pathology  2009;62(2):168-171.
Background:
Patient self-monitoring (PSM) of oral anticoagulation therapy (OAT) can improve anticoagulant control, but poor uptake and high dropout rates have prompted suggestions that PSM is suitable for only a minority of patients in the UK.
Aims:
To determine whether PSM could be a viable alternative to regular hospital anticoagulant clinic attendance, if offered from the start of treatment.
Methods:
318 consecutive patients referred, for the first time, to an anticoagulation clinic were assessed for eligibility using established criteria. Patients electing for PSM attended training and, following successful assessment, performed a capillary blood INR every two weeks or more frequently if directed to do so by the anticoagulation clinic. Primary outcome measures were uptake of PSM and the percentage time in target therapeutic INR range (TIR) compared to patients electing for routine clinic care.
Results:
Of 318 patients referred for OAT, 188 were eligible for PSM. 84 (26%) elected to self-monitor, of whom 72 (23%) remained self-monitoring or had completed their course of treatment at the end of the audit. Self-monitoring patients had significantly better anticoagulant control than those receiving routine hospital anticoagulation clinic care (TIR 71% vs 60%, p = 0.003) and significantly less time outside critical limits, ie, INR <1.5 or >5.0 (0.45% vs 2.04%, p = 0.008).
Conclusions:
Patients offered PSM from the start of treatment show increased uptake compared to previous UK studies and a level of oral anticoagulation control comparable to that reported in previous clinical trials.
doi:10.1136/jcp.2008.059634
PMCID: PMC2629005  PMID: 19181634
12.  Point-of-Care International Normalized Ratio (INR) Monitoring Devices for Patients on Long-term Oral Anticoagulation Therapy 
Executive Summary
Subject of the Evidence-Based Analysis
The purpose of this evidence based analysis report is to examine the safety and effectiveness of point-of-care (POC) international normalized ratio (INR) monitoring devices for patients on long-term oral anticoagulation therapy (OAT).
Clinical Need: Target Population and Condition
Long-term OAT is typically required by patients with mechanical heart valves, chronic atrial fibrillation, venous thromboembolism, myocardial infarction, stroke, and/or peripheral arterial occlusion. It is estimated that approximately 1% of the population receives anticoagulation treatment and, by applying this value to Ontario, there are an estimated 132,000 patients on OAT in the province, a figure that is expected to increase with the aging population.
Patients on OAT are regularly monitored and their medications adjusted to ensure that their INR scores remain in the therapeutic range. This can be challenging due to the narrow therapeutic window of warfarin and variation in individual responses. Optimal INR scores depend on the underlying indication for treatment and patient level characteristics, but for most patients the therapeutic range is an INR score of between 2.0 and 3.0.
The current standard of care in Ontario for patients on long-term OAT is laboratory-based INR determination with management carried out by primary care physicians or anticoagulation clinics (ACCs). Patients also regularly visit a hospital or community-based facility to provide a venous blood samples (venipuncture) that are then sent to a laboratory for INR analysis.
Experts, however, have commented that there may be under-utilization of OAT due to patient factors, physician factors, or regional practice variations and that sub-optimal patient management may also occur. There is currently no population-based Ontario data to permit the assessment of patient care, but recent systematic reviews have estimated that less that 50% of patients receive OAT on a routine basis and that patients are in the therapeutic range only 64% of the time.
Overview of POC INR Devices
POC INR devices offer an alternative to laboratory-based testing and venipuncture, enabling INR determination from a fingerstick sample of whole blood. Independent evaluations have shown POC devices to have an acceptable level of precision. They permit INR results to be determined immediately, allowing for more rapid medication adjustments.
POC devices can be used in a variety of settings including physician offices, ACCs, long-term care facilities, pharmacies, or by the patients themselves through self-testing (PST) or self-management (PSM) techniques. With PST, patients measure their INR values and then contact their physician for instructions on dose adjustment, whereas with PSM, patients adjust the medication themselves based on pre-set algorithms. These models are not suitable for all patients and require the identification and education of suitable candidates.
Potential advantages of POC devices include improved convenience to patients, better treatment compliance and satisfaction, more frequent monitoring and fewer thromboembolic and hemorrhagic complications. Potential disadvantages of the device include the tendency to underestimate high INR values and overestimate low INR values, low thromboplastin sensitivity, inability to calculate a mean normal PT, and errors in INR determination in patients with antiphospholipid antibodies with certain instruments. Although treatment satisfaction and quality of life (QoL) may improve with POC INR monitoring, some patients may experience increased anxiety or preoccupation with their disease with these strategies.
Evidence-Based Analysis Methods
Research Questions
1. Effectiveness
Does POC INR monitoring improve clinical outcomes in various settings compared to standard laboratory-based testing?
Does POC INR monitoring impact patient satisfaction, QoL, compliance, acceptability, convenience compared to standard laboratory-based INR determination?
Settings include primary care settings with use of POC INR devices by general practitioners or nurses, ACCs, pharmacies, long-term care homes, and use by the patient either for PST or PSM.
2. Cost-effectiveness
What is the cost-effectiveness of POC INR monitoring devices in various settings compared to standard laboratory-based INR determination?
Inclusion Criteria
English-language RCTs, systematic reviews, and meta-analyses
Publication dates: 1996 to November 25, 2008
Population: patients on OAT
Intervention: anticoagulation monitoring by POC INR device in any setting including anticoagulation clinic, primary care (general practitioner or nurse), pharmacy, long-term care facility, PST, PSM or any other POC INR strategy
Minimum sample size: 50 patients Minimum follow-up period: 3 months
Comparator: usual care defined as venipuncture blood draw for an INR laboratory test and management provided by an ACC or individual practitioner
Outcomes: Hemorrhagic events, thromboembolic events, all-cause mortality, anticoagulation control as assessed by proportion of time or values in the therapeutic range, patient reported outcomes including satisfaction, QoL, compliance, acceptability, convenience
Exclusion criteria
Non-RCTs, before-after studies, quasi-experimental studies, observational studies, case reports, case series, editorials, letters, non-systematic reviews, conference proceedings, abstracts, non-English articles, duplicate publications
Studies where POC INR devices were compared to laboratory testing to assess test accuracy
Studies where the POC INR results were not used to guide patient management
Method of Review
A search of electronic databases (OVID MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process & Other Non-Indexed Citations, EMBASE, The Cochrane Library, and the International Agency for Health Technology Assessment [INAHTA] database) was undertaken to identify evidence published from January 1, 1998 to November 25, 2008. Studies meeting the inclusion criteria were selected from the search results. Reference lists of selected articles were also checked for relevant studies.
Summary of Findings
Five existing reviews and 22 articles describing 17 unique RCTs met the inclusion criteria. Three RCTs examined POC INR monitoring devices with PST strategies, 11 RCTs examined PSM strategies, one RCT included both PST and PSM strategies and two RCTs examined the use of POC INR monitoring devices by health care professionals.
Anticoagulation Control
Anticoagulation control is measured by the percentage of time INR is within the therapeutic range or by the percentage of INR values in the therapeutic range. Due to the differing methodologies and reporting structures used, it was deemed inappropriate to combine the data and estimate whether the difference between groups would be significant. Instead, the results of individual studies were weighted by the number of person-years of observation and then pooled to calculate a summary measure.
Across most studies, patients in the intervention groups tended to have a higher percentage of time and values in the therapeutic target range in comparison to control patients. When the percentage of time in the therapeutic range was pooled across studies and weighted by the number of person-years of observation, the difference between the intervention and control groups was 4.2% for PSM, 7.2% for PST and 6.1% for POC use by health care practitioners. Overall, intervention patients were in the target range 69% of the time and control patients were in the therapeutic target range 64% of the time leading to an overall difference between groups of roughly 5%.
Major Complications and Deaths
There was no statistically significant difference in the number of major hemorrhagic events between patients managed with POC INR monitoring devices and patients managed with standard laboratory testing (OR =0.74; 95% CI: 0.52- 1.04). This difference was non-significant for all POC strategies (PSM, PST, health care practitioner).
Patients managed with POC INR monitoring devices had significantly fewer thromboembolic events than usual care patients (OR =0.52; 95% CI: 0.37 - 0.74). When divided by POC strategy, PSM resulted in significantly fewer thromboembolic events than usual care (OR =0.46.; 95% CI: 0.29 - 0.72). The observed difference in thromboembolic events for PSM remained significant when the analysis was limited to major thromboembolic events (OR =0.40; 95% CI: 0.17 - 0.93), but was non-significant when the analysis was limited to minor thromboembolic events (OR =0.73; 95% CI: 0.08 - 7.01). PST and GP/Nurse strategies did not result in significant differences in thromboembolic events, however there were only a limited number of studies examining these interventions.
No statistically significant difference was observed in the number of deaths between POC intervention and usual care control groups (OR =0.67; 95% CI: 0.41 - 1.10). This difference was non-significant for all POC strategies. Only one study reported on survival with 10-year survival rate of 76.1% in the usual care control group compared to 84.5% in the PSM group (P=0.05).
Summary Results of Meta-Analyses of Major Complications and Deaths in POC INR Monitoring Studies
Patient Satisfaction and Quality of Life
Quality of life measures were reported in eight studies comparing POC INR monitoring to standard laboratory testing using a variety of measurement tools. It was thus not possible to calculate a quantitative summary measure. The majority of studies reported favourable impacts of POC INR monitoring on QoL and found better treatment satisfaction with POC monitoring. Results from a pre-analysis patient and caregiver focus group conducted in Ontario also indicated improved patient QoL with POC monitoring.
Quality of the Evidence
Studies varied with regard to patient eligibility, baseline patient characteristics, follow-up duration, and withdrawal rates. Differential drop-out rates were observed such that the POC intervention groups tended to have a larger number of patients who withdrew. There was a lack of consistency in the definitions and reporting for OAT control and definitions of adverse events. In most studies, the intervention group received more education on the use of warfarin and performed more frequent INR testing, which may have overestimated the effect of the POC intervention. Patient selection and eligibility criteria were not always fully described and it is likely that the majority of the PST/PSM trials included a highly motivated patient population. Lastly, a large number of trials were also sponsored by industry.
Despite the observed heterogeneity among studies, there was a general consensus in findings that POC INR monitoring devices have beneficial impacts on the risk of thromboembolic events, anticoagulation control and patient satisfaction and QoL (ES Table 2).
GRADE Quality of the Evidence on POC INR Monitoring Studies
CI refers to confidence interval; Interv, intervention; OR, odds ratio; RCT, randomized controlled trial.
Economic Analysis
Using a 5-year Markov model, the health and economic outcomes associated with four different anticoagulation management approaches were evaluated:
Standard care: consisting of a laboratory test with a venipuncture blood draw for an INR;
Healthcare staff testing: consisting of a test with a POC INR device in a medical clinic comprised of healthcare staff such as pharmacists, nurses, and physicians following protocol to manage OAT;
PST: patient self-testing using a POC INR device and phoning in results to an ACC or family physician; and
PSM: patient self-managing using a POC INR device and self-adjustment of OAT according to a standardized protocol. Patients may also phone in to a medical office for guidance.
The primary analytic perspective was that of the MOHLTC. Only direct medical costs were considered and the time horizon of the model was five years - the serviceable life of a POC device.
From the results of the economic analysis, it was found that POC strategies are cost-effective compared to traditional INR laboratory testing. In particular, the healthcare staff testing strategy can derive potential cost savings from the use of one device for multiple patients. The PSM strategy, however, seems to be the most cost-effective method i.e. patients are more inclined to adjust their INRs more readily (as opposed to allowing INRs to fall out of range).
Considerations for Ontario Health System
Although the use of POC devices continues to diffuse throughout Ontario, not all OAT patients are suitable or have the ability to practice PST/PSM. The use of POC is currently concentrated at the institutional setting, including hospitals, ACCs, long-term care facilities, physician offices and pharmacies, and is much less commonly used at the patient level. It is, however, estimated that 24% of OAT patients (representing approximately 32,000 patients in Ontario), would be suitable candidates for PST/PSM strategies and willing to use a POC device.
There are several barriers to the use and implementation of POC INR monitoring devices, including factors such as lack of physician familiarity with the devices, resistance to changing established laboratory-based methods, lack of an approach for identifying suitable patients and inadequate resources for effective patient education and training. Issues of cost and insufficient reimbursement strategies may also hinder implementation and effective quality assurance programs would need to be developed to ensure that INR measurements are accurate and precise.
Conclusions
For a select group of patients who are highly motivated and trained, PSM resulted in significantly fewer thromboembolic events compared to conventional laboratory-based INR testing. No significant differences were observed for major hemorrhages or all-cause mortality. PST and GP/Nurse use of POC strategies are just as effective as conventional laboratory-based INR testing for thromboembolic events, major hemorrhages, and all-cause mortality. POC strategies may also result in better OAT control as measured by the proportion of time INR is in the therapeutic range and there appears to be beneficial impacts on patient satisfaction and QoL. The use of POC devices should factor in patient suitability, patient education and training, health system constraints, and affordability.
Keywords
anticoagulants, International Normalized Ratio, point-of-care, self-monitoring, warfarin.
PMCID: PMC3377545  PMID: 23074516
13.  Effect of thromboplastin and coagulometer interaction on the precision of the International Normalised Ratio. 
Journal of Clinical Pathology  1995;48(1):13-17.
AIMS--To examine the magnitude of thromboplastin and coagulometer interactions on the precision of International Normalised Ratio (INR) values when the manufacturers' recommended instrument specific International Sensitivity Index (ISI) values are adopted for the INR calculation. METHODS--The variability of INR values obtained from four automated phototopical coagulometers frequently used in North American laboratories was studied. When used with five commercial thromboplastins of moderate to high sensitivity (ISI values 0.92-1.97), 20 prothrombin time results were generated for each of a population of 98 patients on established warfarin treatment. RESULTS--The mean INR values of the patients ranged from 2.05 to 2.81, depending on which reagent/coagulometer combination was used. Within patient variation increased as the median INR value increased. The mean coefficient of variation of within patient INR values was 10%; the mean coefficient of variation of the prothrombin time results in seconds and prothrombin time ratio were 21 and 18%, respectively. CONCLUSIONS--There was considerable bias in the estimated ISI values of the thromboplastins compared with the manufacturers' instrument specific ISI value. Despite this apparent imperfection, our study clearly showed that the INR is preferable to other prothrombin time reporting formats for assessing the degree of anticoagulation for patients on warfarin treatment.
PMCID: PMC502253  PMID: 7706513
14.  Evaluation of the Ciba Corning Biotrack 512 coagulation monitor for the control of oral anticoagulation. 
Journal of Clinical Pathology  1991;44(11):950-953.
The Ciba Corning Biotrack 512 coagulation monitor requires a minimal degree of technical expertise to operate, and is already in use for near-patient testing. This study evaluated the monitor for possible use in decentralised control of oral anticoagulant treatment. The monitor compared well with Manchester Reagent, suggesting that it could be used in areas where this thromboplastin is used for centralised control. The inability of the monitor to allow for locally determined geometric mean normal prothrombin times in the calculation of the International Normalised Ratio (INR), and possibly the high International Sensitivity Index (ISI) of the thromboplastin used with the monitor, resulted in poor comparability with some other thromboplastins, particularly Thrombotest. These problems need to be addressed if the monitor is to be used for decentralised anticoagulant control.
PMCID: PMC496638  PMID: 1752987
15.  SMART: Self-Management of Anticoagulation, a Randomised Trial [ISRCTN19313375] 
BMC Family Practice  2003;4:11.
Background
Oral anticoagulation monitoring has traditionally taken place in secondary care because of the need for a laboratory blood test, the international normalised ratio (INR). The development of reliable near patient testing (NPT) systems for INR estimation has facilitated devolution of testing to primary care. Patient self-management is a logical progression from the primary care model. This study will be the first to randomise non-selected patients in primary care, to either self-management or standard care.
Method
The study was a multi-centred randomised controlled trial with patients from 49 general practices recruited. Those suitable for inclusion were aged 18 or over, with a long term indication for oral anticoagulation, who had taken warfarin for at least six months. Patients randomised to the intervention arm attended at least two training sessions which were practice-based, 1 week apart. Each patient was assessed on their capability to undertake self management. If considered capable, they were given a near patient INR testing monitor, test strips and quality control material for home testing. Patients managed their own anticoagulation for a period of 12 months and performed their INR test every 2 weeks. Control patients continued with their pre-study care either attending hospital or practice based anticoagulant clinics.
Discussion
The methodology used in this trial will overcome concerns from previous trials of selection bias and relevance to the UK health service. The study will give a clearer understanding of the benefits of self-management in terms of clinical and cost effectiveness and patient preference.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-4-11
PMCID: PMC240084  PMID: 13678426
16.  Feasibility and Patients’ Acceptance of Home Automated Telemanagement of Oral Anticoagulation Therapy 
We developed the Home Automated Telemanagement (HAT) system for patients on oral anticoagulation therapy. It consists of a home unit, HAT server, and clinician unit. Patients at home use a palmtop or a laptop connected with a prothrombin time (PT) monitor. Each HAT session consists of self-testing, feedback, and educational components. The symptom data and PT/INR from patient homes are automatically sent to the HAT server and analyzed by the system. Patients who were seen in the Anticoagulation Clinic (N=29) were asked to use HAT in a laboratory setting. Semi-structured, indepth interviews were used for the evaluation of HAT acceptance. 93% claimed that they would use such a tool at home and would advise other patients to use HAT for self-management and disease-specific education. Twelve patients used HAT at home for eight weeks. Compared to baseline, patients completing the home study showed statistically significant improvement in disease-specific quality of life dimensions of general satisfaction, self-efficacy, daily hassles, and distress. The Client Satisfaction Questionnaire demonstrated significant improvement in patient satisfaction with the treatment process. Our results demonstrated high acceptance of the HAT system by patients receiving long term anticoagulation therapy regardless of their previous computer experience or socioeconomic background.
PMCID: PMC1480103  PMID: 14728168
17.  Should we test the prothrombin time in anticoagulated epistaxis patients? 
Allergy & Rhinology  2013;4(1):e52-e53.
Epistaxis is one of the most frequent emergencies in rhinology. Patients using anticoagulative medication are at increased risk for epistaxis. We evaluated the prothrombin time and the international normalized ratio (INR) in anticoagulated epistaxis patients. Patients suffering from epistaxis were prospectively included in a database and results from prothrombin testing were analyzed in the context of anticoagulation. One hundred sixteen of 591 epistaxis cases were identified to be on oral anticoagulation. The INR was found to be above therapeutic levels in 19 (16%) of these cases. We strongly recommend prothrombin time and INR testing in all epistaxis patients taking any sort of vitamin K antagonists.
doi:10.2500/ar.2013.4.0049
PMCID: PMC3679570  PMID: 23772329
Anticoagulation; clotting; coumarin; epistaxis; INR; international normalized ratio; nose bleeding; prothrombin time; quick; screening; warfarin
18.  Bench-to-bedside review: Optimising emergency reversal of vitamin K antagonists in severe haemorrhage – from theory to practice 
Critical Care  2009;13(2):209.
Critical care physicians are increasingly facing patients receiving oral anticoagulation for either cessation of major haemorrhage or to reverse the effects of vitamin K antagonists ahead of emergency surgery. Rapid reversal of anticoagulation is particularly essential in cases of life-threatening bleeding. In these situations, guidelines recommend the concomitant administration of prothrombin complex concentrates (PCCs) and oral or intravenous vitamin K for the fastest normalisation of the international normalised ratio (INR). Despite their universal recommendation, PCCs remain underused by many physicians who prefer to opt for fresh frozen plasma despite its limitations in anticoagulant reversal, including time to reverse INR and high risk of transfusion-related acute lung injury. In contrast, the lower volume required to normalise INR with PCCs and the room temperature storage facilitate faster preparation and administration time, thus increasing the speed at which haemorrhages can be treated. PCCs therefore allow faster, more reliable and complete reversal of vitamin K anticoagulation, especially when administered immediately following confirmation of haemorrhage. In the emergency setting, probabilistic dosing may be considered.
doi:10.1186/cc7701
PMCID: PMC2689453  PMID: 19486503
19.  A randomised controlled trial of patient self management of oral anticoagulation treatment compared with primary care management 
Journal of Clinical Pathology  2002;55(11):845-849.
Background: The increase in numbers of patients receiving warfarin treatment has led to the development of alternative models of service delivery for oral anticoagulant monitoring. Patient self management for oral anticoagulation is a model new to the UK. This randomised trial was the first to compare routine primary care management of oral anticoagulation with patient self management.
Aim: To test whether patient self management is as safe, in terms of clinical effectiveness, as primary care management within the UK, as assessed by therapeutic international normalised ratio (INR) control.
Method: Patients receiving warfarin from six general practices who satisfied study entry criteria were eligible to enter the study. Eligible patients were randomised to either intervention (patient self management) or control (routine primary care management) for six months. The intervention comprised two training sessions of one to two hours duration. Patients were allowed to undertake patient self management on successful completion of training. INR testing was undertaken using a Coaguchek device and regular internal/external quality control tests were performed. Patients were advised to perform INR tests every two weeks, or weekly if a dose adjustment was made. Dosage adjustment was undertaken using a simple dosing algorithm.
Results: Seventy eight of 206 (38%) patients were eligible for inclusion and, of these, 35 (45%) declined involvement or withdrew from the study. Altogether, 23 intervention and 26 control patients entered the study. There were no significant differences in INR control (per cent time in range: intervention, 74%; control, 77%). There were no serious adverse events in the intervention group, with one fatal retroperitoneal haemorrhage in the control group. Costs of patient self management were significantly greater than for routine care (£90 v £425/patient/year).
Conclusion: These are the first UK data to demonstrate that patient self management is as safe as primary care management for a selected population. Further studies are needed to elucidate whether this model of care is suitable for a larger population.
PMCID: PMC1769803  PMID: 12401823
oral anticoagulation; patient self management; primary care
20.  Content of Weblogs Written by Health Professionals 
Journal of General Internal Medicine  2008;23(10):1642-1646.
Background
Medical weblogs (“blogs”) have emerged as a new connection between health professionals and the public.
Objective
To examine the scope and content of medical blogs and approximate how often blog authors commented about patients, violated patient privacy, or displayed a lack of professionalism.
Design
We defined medical blogs as those that contain some medical content and were apparently written by physicians or nurses. We used the Google search term “medical blog” to begin a modified snowball sampling method to identify sites posting entries from 1/1/06 through 12/14/06. We reviewed five entries per blog, categorizing content and characteristics.
Results
We identified 271 medical blogs. Over half (56.8%) of blog authors provided sufficient information in text or image to reveal their identities. Individual patients were described in 114 (42.1%) blogs. Patients were portrayed positively in 43 blogs (15.9%) and negatively in 48 blogs (17.7%). Of blogs that described interactions with individual patients, 45 (16.6%) included sufficient information for patients to identify their doctors or themselves. Three blogs showed recognizable photographic images of patients. Healthcare products were promoted, either by images or descriptions, in 31 (11.4%) blogs.
Conclusions
Blogs are a growing part of the public face of the health professions. They offer physicians and nurses the opportunity to share their narratives. They also risk revealing confidential information or, in their tone or content, risk reflecting poorly on the blog authors and their professions. The health professions should assume some responsibility for helping authors and readers negotiate these challenges.
doi:10.1007/s11606-008-0726-6
PMCID: PMC2533366  PMID: 18649110
weblog; professionalism; Internet
21.  Multivariate relationships between international normalized ratio and vitamin K-dependent coagulation-derived parameters in normal healthy donors and oral anticoagulant therapy patients 
Thrombosis Journal  2003;1:7.
Background and objectives
International Normalized Ratio (INR) is a world-wide routinely used factor in the monitoring of oral anticoagulation treatment (OAT). However, it was reported that other factors, e. g. factor II, may even better reflect therapeutic efficacy of OAT and, therefore, may be potentialy useful for OAT monitoring. The primary purpose of this study was to characterize the associations of INR with other vitamin K-dependent plasma proteins in a heterogenous group of individuals, including healthy donors, patients on OAT and patients not receiving OAT. The study aimed also at establishing the influence of co-morbid conditions (incl. accompanying diseases) and co-medications (incl. different intensity of OAT) on INR.
Design and Methods
Two hundred and three subjects were involved in the study. Of these, 35 were normal healthy donors (group I), 73 were patients on medication different than OAT (group II) and 95 were patients on stable oral anticoagulant (acenocoumarol) therapy lasting for at least half a year prior to the study. The values of INR and activated partial thromboplastin time (APTT) ratio, as well as activities of FII, FVII, FX, protein C, and concentration of prothrombin F1+2 fragments and fibrinogen were obtained for all subjects. In statistical evaluation, the uni- and multivariate analyses were employed and the regression equations describing the obtained associations were estimated.
Results
Of the studied parameters, three (factors II, VII and X) appeared as very strong modulators of INR, protein C and prothrombin fragments F1+2 had moderate influence, whereas both APTT ratio and fibrinogen had no significant impact on INR variability. Due to collinearity and low tolerance of independent variables included in the multiple regression models, we routinely employed a ridge multiple regression model which compromises the minimal number of independent variables with the maximal overall determination coefficient. The best-fitted two-component model included FII and FVII activities and explained 90% of INR variability (compared to 93% in the 5-component model including all vitamin K-dependent proteins). Neither the presence of accompanying diseases nor the use of OAT nor any other medication (acetylsalicylic acid, statins, steroids, thyroxin) biased significantly these associations.
Conclusion
Among various vitamin K-dependent plasma proteins, the coagulation factors II, VII and X showed the most significant associations with INR. Of these variables, the two-component model, including factors II and VII, deserves special attention, as it largely explains the overall variability observed in INR estimates. The statistical power of this model is validated on virtue of the estimation that the revealed associations are rather universal and remain essentially unbiased by other compounding variables, including clinical status and medical treatment. Further, much broader population studies are needed to verify clinical usefulness of methods alternate or compounding to INR monitoring of OAT.
doi:10.1186/1477-9560-1-7
PMCID: PMC317378  PMID: 14969588
International Normalized Ratio (INR) of prothrombin time; clotting factors; protein C; prothrombin fragment F1+2; multivariate analysis
22.  Is the international normalised ratio (INR) reliable? A trial of comparative measurements in hospital laboratory and primary care settings. 
Journal of Clinical Pathology  1999;52(7):494-497.
AIM: To determine the reliability of international normalised ratio (INR) measurement in primary care by practice nurses using near patient testing (NPT), in comparison with results obtained within hospital laboratories by varied methods. METHODS: As part of an MRC funded study into primary care oral anticoagulation management, INR measurements obtained in general practice were validated against values on the same samples obtained in hospital laboratories. A prospective comparative trial was undertaken between three hospital laboratories and nine general practices. All patients attending general practice based anticoagulant clinics had parallel INR estimations performed in general practice and in a hospital laboratory. RESULTS: 405 tests were performed. Comparison between results obtained in the practices and those in the reference hospital laboratory (gold standard), which used the same method of testing for INR, showed a correlation coefficient of 0.96. Correlation coefficients comparing the results with the various standard laboratory techniques ranged from 0.86 to 0.92. It was estimated that up to 53% of tests would have resulted in clinically significant differences (change in warfarin dose) depending upon the site and method of testing. The practice derived results showed a positive bias ranging from 0.28 to 1.55, depending upon the site and method of testing. CONCLUSIONS: No technical problems associated with INR testing within primary care were uncovered. Discrepant INR results are as problematic in hospital settings as they are in primary care. These data highlight the failings of the INR to standardise when different techniques and reagents are used, an issue which needs to be resolved. For primary care to become more involved in therapeutic oral anticoagulation monitoring, close links are needed between hospital laboratories and practices, particularly with regard to training and quality assurance.
PMCID: PMC501488  PMID: 10605400
23.  Monitoring oral anticoagulant treatment with the TAS near-patient test system: comparison with conventional thromboplastins. 
Journal of Clinical Pathology  1997;50(11):951-956.
BACKGROUND: A number of instruments have been developed for determination of prothrombin time (PT) and International Normalised Ratio (INR) at locations not limited to central laboratories. AIM: To evaluate one such portable instrument, the Thrombolytic Assessment System (TAS), which can be used in a near-patient setting. METHODS: Samples from 20 normal subjects and 48 patients treated with warfarin for venous thromboembolic disease were studied. The warfarin group was divided into: initiation phase (n = 10), combined warfarin and heparin (n = 10), stabilised therapy (n = 20), and over anticoagulated patients (n = 8). PTs and INRs were determined in each group using three conventional thromboplastins (Diagen Activated, Manchester Reagent, and Instrumentation Laboratory) and two TAS techniques (whole blood or plasma). An independent International Sensitivity Index (ISI) calibration of the TAS system was performed. RESULTS: Calculated ISIs for the TAS were 1.028 and 0.984 for plasma and whole blood analysis, respectively, compared with manufacturer's values of 0.98 and 0.97. INR results with TAS (whole blood) were 11% less than those obtained with Diagen Activated (p < 0.01) and 16% less than those obtained with Instrumentation Laboratory (p < 0.001) when manufacturers' mean normal PT and ISI were used for TAS INRs. TAS (whole blood) results were similar to TAS plasma or Manchester Reagent results. The use of a locally determined mean normal prothrombin time (MNPT) improved agreement between TAS and the other reagents, abolishing the significant difference between INRs determined with TAS (whole blood) and Diagen Activated techniques. CONCLUSION: The TAS system can be used with whole blood or plasma and produces similar INRs to those obtained with Diagen Activated or Manchester Reagent using manufacturer's ISI and a locally determined MNPT. Results were lower with TAS or Manchester Reagent compared with those obtained with Instrumentation Laboratory thromboplastin.
PMCID: PMC500323  PMID: 9462248
24.  Automation and prothrombin time: a United Kingdom field study of two widely used coagulometers. 
Journal of Clinical Pathology  1990;43(8):679-684.
Current performance in the prothrombin time (PT) of the two main United Kingdom coagulometer/thromboplastin systems was assessed in a field survey. Twenty abnormal samples covering a wide spectrum of International Normalised Ratio (INR) were distributed to users of the KC4/KC10 and Coag-a-Mate instruments. Coagulometer results were compared with those of the manual method. A substantial minority with each system showed good agreement with the manual reference values. There was, however, a considerable variation between instruments, meaningful in clinical terms, evidenced by varying regression slopes and local system International Sensitivity Indices (ISI). For intense anticoagulation (3.0 to 4.5 INR) a larger dose of warfarin is needed with the Coag-a-Mate than with the KC instruments. With a manual INR of 4.0 the KC instruments tended to give longer PT (mean INR + 0.3); the Coag-a-Mate PT was generally shorter (mean INR -0.1). With both systems the mean normal PT were shorter than the manual but the degree of shortening did not parallel that of the abnormal samples. This effect undermines the use of a simple prothrombin ratio and of an INR value derived from it, based on a manual ISI. The use of a system related ISI cannot, however, be recommended until local instrument variables are controlled.
Images
PMCID: PMC502654  PMID: 2401737
25.  Outcomes research using the electronic patient record: Beth Israel Hospital's experience with anticoagulation. 
Using data captured as part of the routine care of outpatients taking the oral anticoagulant warfarin, we described variation in recording reasons for anticoagulation, selecting target International Normalized Ratio (INR) ranges, and performing coagulation blood tests. Laboratory results were directly captured by or entered into an Anticoagulation Flowsheet, a computer program which is fully integrated with our Online Medical Record (OMR). We studied the 177 patients with flowsheets between October 1993 and January 1995. 90% had a reason for anticoagulation entered; 29 different target INR ranges were entered. For patients with a target INR of 2.0-3.0, the mean number of weeks between blood tests, after a test which was in range, was three weeks (standard deviation 1.7 weeks, range one to twelve weeks). We conclude that routinely collected data contained in an electronic patient record (EPR) can be a rich resource for describing and evaluating clinical practice. We also address several limitations to using EPR data: validity of EPR information, lack of coded information, and imperfect capture of clinician thought processes.
PMCID: PMC2579208  PMID: 8563406

Results 1-25 (608411)