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Preventing DVT In Hospital: The Duty Of Medical Professionals

In 2005, a UK survey suggested that 71% of hospital patients assessed to be at medium or high risk of developing DVT did not receive any kind of preventative medication. As a result, some 25,000 people died unnecessarily.

Since then, steps have been taken to reduce the number of DVT-related deaths in our hospitals. However, patients across the country are still suffering preventable blood clots because medical professionals are failing in their duty to recognise and treat those at risk.

How should medical professionals prevent DVT?

According to NICE guidelines, all patients who are admitted to hospital should be assessed to check whether they are at risk of developing DVT. This assessment will consider various factors that could increase the chance of a blood clot occurring.

Firstly, medical professionals should look at any predisposing conditions that could cause a complication. This will include old age, obesity or circulatory problems. Secondly, medical professionals should assess whether the patient's mobility is poor, or whether their mobility is going to be greatly reduced because of an impending surgical procedure. Lastly, medical professionals should check whether the patient is undergoing surgical under general or epidural anaesthetic with a surgery time lasting more than 90 minutes, or 60 minutes if it involves the pelvis and lower limbs.

If a patient does have any of these risk factors, measures should be put in place to prevent DVT from occurring. This will involve administering anticoagulant medication and providing compression stockings. This will help the blood in the legs circulate, and will reduce the blood from clotting in the wrong place. Medical staff should also ensure a patient is kept hydrated and kept mobile.

Failure to prevent DVT

But despite these guidelines being in place, patients in NHS hospitals are continuing to suffer preventative blood clots. This is often because medical professionals have failed to:-

  • Carry out an assessment upon admission;
  • Accurately assess the risks posed to a patient upon admission;
  • Monitor a patient's condition during the course of their hospital stay;
  • Recognise any risks that have presented during a patient's hospital stay, but which were not evident at the time of admission;
  • Provide the appropriate type/amount of preventative measures.

If a patient does suffer a blood clot in hospital and this could have been avoided had the right steps been taken, the level of care will be considered unacceptable. If this has happened to you or your loved one, you could be in a position to take legal action against the person or hospital responsible. This will ensure that you are properly compensated for the pain and suffering you have been caused. To find out more, you need to speak to a medical negligence solicitor as soon as possible.

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