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Deep Vein Thrombosis Guidelines

Deep Vein Thrombosis Guidelines

Every year in the UK, around 25,000 of hospital patient's will die from a preventable blood clot. If this has happened to a loved one, or if you yourself have suffered from a clot that could have been avoided, is there any action you can take?

Assessing the Risk

In response to the worrying number of people who die from preventable clots each year, the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) has published a set of guidelines titled 'Venous Thromboembolism Reducing the Risk'.

Implemented in January 2010, the guidelines focus upon the need to prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) from developing in the first place. But what exactly is DVT? In brief, it is a medical condition in which a clot occurs in one of the body's deep veins, usually in the leg. This can cause a number of complications. In particular, if this clot becomes dislodged it will travel up the bloodstream and potentially get stuck in the lungs, blocking the blood supply. This is known as a pulmonary embolism, which can be life-threatening.

Identifying At-Risk Patients

Due to being unwell and inactive, hospital patients are especially vulnerable to developing DVT. That is why the NICE guidelines have made it compulsory for all hospital admissions to undergo a blood clot risk assessment. This will help to establish whether or not a patient has an increased chance of blood clots. Amongst others, this will include those who:-

  • Are having an operation on the lower part of the body;
  • Are having an operation that lasts over 90 minutes;
  • Are confined to bed;
  • Have a history (or family history) of blood clots;
  • Present other risk factors such as obesity, smoking, pregnancy and other genetic or medical conditions.

If a patient is found to be at risk of suffering from DVT, preventative treatment should be given. This should be tailored to suit the individual, and may involve compression stockings or anti-coagulant medication to help thin the blood.

Failure to Follow DVT Guidelines

By following the guidelines set out by NICE, DVT mortality rates can be reduced to as little as two deaths in every 100 sufferers. However, not all NHS Trusts are carrying out the simple risk-assessments steps, even though it is now a requirement.

If medical professionals fail to assess a patient, or neglect to implement the necessary preventative treatment, the consequences could be devastating. Indeed, it is thought some 10,000 patients have died from DVT because hospital staff failed to follow guidelines.

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