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Plan to defeat DVT

PUBLISHED: 09:22 27 January 2010 | UPDATED: 16:25 30 June 2010

At least 3,000 lives a year could be saved in the region with the launch of groundbreaking new medical guidelines for patients in hospital.

A decision by the government's medical advisory body yesterday means any adult admitted to hospital must be assessed for their risk of developing clots - also known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT) - during their stay.

At least 3,000 lives a year could be saved in the region with the launch of groundbreaking new medical guidelines for patients in hospital.

A decision by the government's medical advisory body yesterday means any adult admitted to hospital must be assessed for their risk of developing clots - also known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT) - during their stay.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) made the recommendations to help prevent an estimated 25,000 avoidable deaths from the condition, a known hazard of hospitals, in the UK.

On average there are 3,000 deaths in the East of England a year from blood clots - most of which develop in hospitals - and the new guidelines enable a patient to be tested so preventative measures can be taken.

Dangers of developing DVT from long haul journeys are well-publicised but this is a relatively rare occurrence affecting people on less than 1 in 10,000 flights whereas there is a dramatically greater risk of contracting DVT for people admitted to hospital.

The national Lifeblood: thrombosis charity welcomed the new guidelines and said without preventative measures up to one in 10 of all people admitted to hospital risk contracting the condition.

Professor Beverley Hunt, medical director of Lifeblood and a member of the Nice guideline development group said: “The simple measures outlined by Nice are cost-effective, have been proven to significantly reduce hospital mortality and can potentially save up to 25,000 avoidable hospital deaths a year.

“Now the challenge is for hospital trusts to prioritise DVT prevention by adopting the Nice guidelines and increasing patient safety and the quality of patient care.”

Dr Jennie Wimperis, a consultant haematologist at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, said: “We have been anticipating these guidelines and support assessment of all patients for risk of acquiring a deep vein thrombosis and have already put into place routine thromboprophylaxis risk assessment (TRA) for all patients.

“All our staff and patients are being urged to learn about clot prevention and next month we launch our "Click for Clots" campaign internally whereby staff can access guidelines and information about anticoagulation, TRAs and information for patients.”

For the past 18 months all in-patients being admitted to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn have been given risk assessments and clot-preventing injections when necessary in a bid to reduce the chances of thrombosis.

Last January a lifesaving campaign was launched in Norfolk. The Stop the Clot campaign called for everyone in the county to act immediately to stop deaths from this “silent killer”.

The Anti-Coagulation Europe charity is reminding people they need to be aware that they or their loved ones are more likely to be at risk of developing a clot if they are immobile and have not moved from a bed or chair for a long period of time.

Lifestyle factors such as smoking and obesity can also increase the risk, along with age - patients over 40 are at greater risk of developing blood clots.

Some medications and treatment such as chemotherapy, the combined contraceptive pill and hormone replacement therapy (HRT) are known to increase the blood clot risk and it has been estimated that one in 1,000 pregnant women develop blood clots in the calf or thigh.

Martin Shetly, a grandfather-of-three from Ashby Street in Norwich got DVT last year after a long haul flight from Cape Town South Africa. The 62-year-old had damaged his heel before he left so he was not as mobile as he would normally have been for his 11-hour flight.

After being on the plane a few hours his leg started to hurt and the swelling got worse during the flight and he went straight to his GP on his return. He was sent to the critical DVT clinic at the N&N and put on warfarin for three months - a blood thinning drug.

He said: “I really welcome these guidelines. I used to think that it would never happen to me but having suffered DVT I know it can happen to anyone and it is most unpleasant.

“The more people are aware of it the less chance they have of developing DVT so any news like this is good news.”

In December 2009, NHS medical director Sir Bruce Keogh said preventing hospital-acquired clots will be the top clinical priority for improving quality and productivity in hospitals in 2010 to 2011.

From April 2010 trusts which do not risk assess 90pc of all admissions will lose 1.5pc of their budget through the new Department of Health commissioning for quality and innovation (CQUIN) framework.


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