Hydroxyurea is a well-established disease-modifying medication for sickle cell disease (SCD). At some institutions, hydroxyurea can only be ordered by “chemotherapy-certified” providers which may not include pediatric resident physicians.
We conducted a survey of 39 American pediatric hospitals regarding their policy on resident hydroxyurea ordering for SCD. Our institution changed its policy in June 2016 to allow residents to order hydroxyurea for hospitalized patients with SCD who were already on hydroxyurea at home. We conducted a retrospective review of the medical records of a random sample of patients with SCD on hydroxyurea admitted the year before and the year after this policy change.
In our national survey, 51% of surveyed hospitals allowed residents to order hydroxyurea, 19% required a second signature, and 30% did not allow residents to order hydroxyurea. In our institutional study, patients after the policy change were significantly more likely to have received their home hydroxyurea by hospital day 1: before 62/90 (69%) versus after 105/119 (88%), P=0.0005. The proportion of patients who inappropriately received hydroxyurea was very low in both groups: before 1/91 (1%) versus after 3/126 (2%), P=0.64, with no serious adverse clinical events due to inappropriate hydroxyurea administration.
Considerable national variation in practice currently exists in regards to resident hydroxyurea ordering hospital policies. A policy allowing residents to order hydroxyurea significantly increased the likelihood of a patient receiving hydroxyurea while hospitalized with no significant increase in inappropriate hydroxyurea administration. Resident hydroxyurea ordering seems safe and beneficial.