Exterior photo of University of New Mexico Hospital
By Michael Haederle

Leading Medication Management

UNM’s Allison Burnett Assumes Presidency of the Anticoagulation Forum

UNM Hospital pharmacist Allison E. Burnett, PharmD, has been named president of the Anticoagulation Forum, a national organization of health care providers advocating for the safe use of blood-thinning medications.

Burnett, director of the Inpatient Anti-Coagulation Management Service at UNMH, is the first woman and the first non-physician to head the 30-year-old organization, which has more than 12,000 members.

The 2003 graduate of the UNM College of Pharmacy is also an assistant clinical professor teaching part-time in the College and in the UNM School of Medicine.

“It is wonderful getting the official word about Dr. Burnett’s achievement,” says Dean Donald Godwin, PhD. “I am very proud of her as a College of Pharmacy alumna.”

Anticoagulant drugs, which keep the blood from clotting, provide great benefit in preventing strokes and other serious cardiovascular episodes, but they also carry substantial risks, Burnett says.

“Anticoagulants have a very good track record of being extremely effective in preventing and treating all types of thrombotic events, whether they’re venous or arterial,” she says, but they are also the No. 1 cause of emergency room visits for adverse reactions.


Allison Burnett, PharmD
Anticoagulants have a very good track record of being extremely effective in preventing and treating all types of thrombotic events
Allison Burnett, PharmD

Warfarin has been used for more than 70 years as a blood thinner, but it must be prescribed with care because it can interact with other medications and cause internal bleeding, Burnett says. Newer oral anticoagulant drugs are safer, but still require close monitoring.

An estimated eight million Americans are on blood thinners, Burnett says, and those numbers are likely to grow as the population ages and more people develop cardiovascular disease.

The Anticoagulation Forum was launched in 1991 as a multidisciplinary effort to share best practices in the use of anticoagulants, Burnett says. The non-profit organization includes physicians, nurses, pharmacists and advanced practice providers and offers online resources.

The organization has also promoted the creation of anticoagulant stewardship programs in hospitals and clinics to reduce adverse drug effects associated with anticoagulant use.

“This is a burgeoning model of care,” Burnett says. “It’s really modeled after the very successful antimicrobial stewardship programs that are mandated in hospitals by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.”

Core elements of a stewardship program include intensive data collection, tracking and analysis and introducing evidence-based systems to assure the safe use of anticoagulants.

The organization is partnering with the U.S. Food & Drug Administration in a pilot project to introduce mentoring at five U.S. hospitals to implement stewardship programs.

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