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News - January 2010

VTE assessment for all hospital admissions

27 January 2010

All patients should be assessed for risk of developing blood clots on admission to hospital and given tailored preventative treatment, according to new NICE guidelines developed jointly with the National Clinical Guideline Centre for Acute and Chronic Conditions.

An estimated 25,000 people who are admitted to hospital each year die from preventable venous thromboembolism (VTE). NICE estimates that thousands of lives could be saved with the help of the new guideline which focuses on reducing the risk of deep vein thrombosis in patients admitted to hospital.

Options for preventative treatment include blood-thinning drugs such as heparin, anti-embolism stockings and foot impulse or pneumatic devices. Importantly, this advice covers all patients admitted to hospital - including those having day-case procedures - and not just those patients having surgery.

Venous thromboembolism - reducing the risk covers both DVT and its possible consequence, pulmonary embolism. The guideline gives recommendations on how to assess if patients are at risk of developing VTE, and importantly their risk of bleeding before blood-thinning drug treatments are used.

This includes considering if patients are likely to have reduced mobility for 3 or more days, the type of procedure they are being admitted for, the age of patients and any pre-existing conditions. Specific recommendations are given for women who are pregnant or have given birth within the previous 6 weeks.

Professor Tom Treasure, Chair of the NICE Guideline Development Group and professor of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery said:

"This NICE guideline is vital in helping to save the 25,000 lives lost each year because of preventable VTE in hospital patients. Put simply, all patients without exception should be assessed on being admitted to hospital for risk of developing a blood clot, and then given preventative treatment that is appropriate for them. VTE is a silent killer - so it’s the responsibility of medical professionals to take the very simple steps set out in the guideline which can help prevent unnecessary deaths and long term illnesses."