All hospital nurses must receive mandatory training in the prevention of venous thromboembolism, senior nurse specialists have warned.
They said many junior nursing staff currently lacked adequate training to properly comply with updated NICE guidelines on the prevention of venous thromboembolism, which recommend all acute admissions be risk assessed for deep vein thrombosis.
Portsmouth Hospitals Trust DVT nurse specialist Kim Carter said training nurses in the prevention of VTE was “essential” if they were to be competent at risk assessing patients.
“Carrying out a risk assessment for DVT could be done by junior nurses as part of a patient’s routine admission. But unless they are given the appropriate training and education in DVT prevention they will not be able to carry out the risk assessment safely,” she said.
Ms Carter, who is also nurse director for the thrombosis charity Lifeblood, said nurses should receive training in the prevention of VTE as part of mandatory training when they start work at a new trust, along with manual handling and fire safety training.
It should be updated “at least every two years” and should also form part of student nurse education and preceptorship schemes for newly qualified nurses, she told Nursing Times.
“This is a major patient safety issue and directors of nursing should be leading this agenda and pushing for it to be taken seriously at trust board level,” she said.
The revised NICE guidance on VTE prevention, published last week, also recommends that patients admitted to hospital should be given treatment to prevent DVT, such as blood-thinning drugs and anti-embolism stockings.
North Bristol Trust thrombosis nurse specialist Sue Bacon said that giving blood-thinning drugs to patients has to go hand in hand with good nursing care.
“Blood-thinning drugs alone are not enough to prevent DVT and they could be seen to fail if the nursing care is inadequate,” she warned.
She said: “Nurses need to ensure patients are adequately hydrated, are mobile where possible and that stockings are fitted correctly. They also need to be trained in VTE prevention so that they can educate patients about the risks of DVT.”
According to NICE, around 25,000 people who are admitted to hospital die from preventable VTE every year. The Department of Health is developing a national programme to tackle the condition in 2010-11 and trusts that do not make significant improvements face being fined.