Missed blood clots cost NHS millions

THE NHS has paid out more than £112million in compensation since 2005 because doctors have failed to diagnose venous thromboembolism, new figures have revealed.

The money was paid out by the NHS Litigation Authority to patients and their families after doctors failed to screen for or give treatments to prevent the condition. The amount paid has increased each year, from £21million in 2005 to more than £26million in 2010.

Compensation was awarded in cases where patients suffered an avoidable blood clot or where a clot was missed by doctors.

Guidelines introduced early last year mean all patients admitted to hospital should be screened for clot risk. The thrombosis charity Lifeblood has said hospitals should take note of the figures and warned compensation claims could exceed £250million by 2015 unless more doctors follow best-practice guidance.

Blood clots or venous thromboembolism kill an estimated 25,000 people admitted to NHS wards in England every year, but many of the deaths are avoidable with the right care.

Lifeblood have analysed Department of Health data and say just 30 of the UK’s 159 hospital trusts in England are meeting the mandatory goal to risk-assess 90 per cent of patients admitted to hospital. They say this could mean 4.5million patients are not being assessed.

NHS medical director Sir Bruce Keogh said: "We are committed to doing something about this issue, to reduce the suffering of thousands of people and to save many lives.

"This is not complicated. I expect organisations to assess every patient for their individual risk of getting a blood clot, and then to provide the appropriate prevention. Not only would this more than pay for itself; it is clearly the right thing to do."