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.
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.
PubMed, the Cochrane Library, DIALOG, MEDLINE, EMBASE, BIOSIS Previews and PASCAL databases.
Randomized controlled trials of patients on long-term OAT, comparing anticoagulation monitoring by POCD with laboratory INR testing and clinical management.
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.
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.
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.
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.