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Most trusts failing on VTE guidance

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Many hospitalised patients may be at increased risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) because trusts are not adhering to guidelines on the prevention of venous thromboembolism (VTE), an audit suggests

Many hospitalised patients may be at increased risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) because trusts are not adhering to guidelines on the prevention of venous thromboembolism (VTE), an audit suggests.

Recommendations from the Chief Medical Officer for England and NICE guidance on VTE prevention both recommend that all hospitalised patients are assessed for VTE risk on admission.

Yet an audit report by the All-Party Parliamentary Thrombosis Group, published last week, found only 32% of the 140 acute trusts in England carried out the assessments.
The authors said failure to implement the guidance may have resulted in the deaths of nearly 11,000 hospital patients from DVT in the past seven months, nearly three times the number of deaths from MRSA.

John Smith, chairperson of the group, said: ‘DVT causes more than 25,000 deaths each year. It is worrying that some NHS trusts are still failing to adhere to these guidelines, which could reduce deaths by over 40%.’

About 52% of hospitalised patients are at risk of developing DVT but fewer than half are told about the risks and only one-third receive a risk assessment.
Kim Carter, DVT nurse specialist at Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, said: ‘There are resource implications [for risk assessment] and it is asking people to do more, but many lives could be saved by implementing these measures – ultimately it will still cost less than treatment for DVT, which is about £640m a year at present.’

Ellen Mason, cardiac nurse for the British Heart Foundation, added: ‘We need to see an increase in the number of appropriately trained frontline staff in the NHS, backed by the resources to carry out proper risk assessment.’

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