Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) screening at hospitals across the country has resulted in a “significant” reduction in death rates.
A major study, carried out by a team from the Quality and Outcomes Research Unit (QUORU) of University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, sought to check the effectiveness of the venous thromboembolism (VTE) risk screening programme.
It involved every single patient admitted to all 163 NHS hospital trusts in England between July 2010 and March 2012.
Led by Professor Domenico Pagano, it concluded that 280 deaths from VTE would have been avoided among patients admitted to hospital for more than three days if all trusts had achieved the required quality standard.
In addition, a further 150 deaths within 90 days of discharge could have been prevented among patients with hospital admissions of less than four days.
Blood clots that develop in a vein are also known as venous thrombosis. DVT is a blood clot in one of the deep veins in the body.
DVT usually occurs in a deep leg vein, causing pain and swelling in the leg and may lead to complications such as pulmonary embolism - when a piece of blood clot breaks off into the bloodstream and blocks one of the blood vessels in the lungs. Together, DVT and pulmonary embolism are known as VTE.
The study, published in the journal Heart, was undertaken following the Department of Health in England’s decision in 2010 to introduce a quality incentive for NHS hospital trusts to screen at least 90% of admitted patients for the risk of developing VTE.
Hospitals which managed to assess at least 90% of patient admissions achieved the quality standard.
The reduction in VTE deaths in hospitals achieving the risk assessment target was evident in both surgical and non-surgical patients. It demonstrates that hospital associated VTE is a “potentially preventable” cause of death and disability.