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Poor DVT policies 'putting lives at risk'

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Patients’ lives are being put at risk by NHS bosses failing to take adequate steps to prevent them developing deep vein thrombosis, a charity has said.

Patients in hospitals are two to three times more likely to die from DVT than from hospital-acquired infections such as MRSA, a report by Lifeblood says.

Professor Simon Noble of Lifeblood said: “Scottish hospital patients are put at a greater risk of contracting thrombosis than patients in England, where all inpatients are required to be routinely risk assessed.”

The charity’s report is based on freedom of information requests to all health boards. The charity works to increase awareness of thrombosis among the public and medical professionals.

Professor Noble said: “Low professional awareness about the risk of thrombosis and the absence of policies to prevent it are needlessly putting patients’ lives at risk and failing to protect vulnerable patients from a completely preventable condition.”

The report said more than 20% of boards in Scotland had no policy to prevent hospital-acquired thrombosis.

More than a quarter of NHS boards do not provide formal education to their staff about assessing patients’ risk of developing the condition.

The research, published during National Thrombosis Week, also found the majority of health boards were failing to provide adequate information to inpatients about the risks of developing thrombosis.

Professor Noble said: “It is imperative that the Scottish government follows England’s recent lead and sets targets for the risk-assessment of all hospital inpatients.”

A Scottish government spokeswoman said ministers are “committed to raising awareness of the dangers of DVT and making sure that people in Scotland with, or at risk of, developing blood clots receive the best possible care”.

She said a survey by NHS Quality Improvement Scotland had confirmed that all NHS boards had protocols in place to prevent and manage DVT, as well as information leaflets for patients.

Guidelines aimed at preventing DVT had been published in 2002 and are currently being revised, she added.

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