Limited impact of clinician education on reducing inappropriate PF4 testing for heparin-induced thrombocytopenia

  • Pannaga MalalurEmail author
  • Charles Greenberg
  • Ming Y. Lim


A high frequency of PF4-ELISA testing in patients suspected to have heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT) despite low 4T scores has been observed in multiple medical centers. Education of clinicians has been suggested to reduce inappropriate testing. We determined trends of PF4-ELISA testing in our institution after the introduction of a HIT education program for clinicians. A HIT Program was developed that included ongoing education, individual feedback, and continuous clinical audit of PF4-ELISA utilization. To assess the impact of education on PF4-ELISA testing trends, we conducted a prospective cohort review of all adult patients who had a PF4-ELISA ordered over a 3 month period (the last quarter of the academic year). 72 PF4-ELISA tests were ordered during the study period. Prospectively calculated 4T scores by investigators revealed 60 low-risk (83.3%), 9 intermediate-risk (12.5%), and 3 high-risk (4.16%). We observed divergent 4T scores with the ordering clinician calculating a higher 4T score compared to the Hematology Quality Improvement (QI) team. The majority of PF4-ELISA testing was ordered by the intensive care units (ICUs) (n = 32, 44.44%). Our study revealed that the frequency of calculation of 4T scores remains poor with the majority inappropriately performed in the ICU setting, with ordering clinicians calculating higher 4T scores than the Hematology QI team. This suggests that clinician education alone is insufficient. Introducing mandatory 4T score calculation prior to PF4-ELISA testing may not be helpful as ordering clinicians can bypass the restriction through inaccurate 4T score calculation.


Thrombocytopenia Heparin 4T score Anticoagulation Clinician education 


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Hematology/Oncology, Department of MedicineMedical University of South CarolinaCharlestonUSA

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