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Blood clot guidance could save 10,000 lives

Assessing patients for their risk of developing blood clots as soon as they are admitted to hospital could save 10,000 lives each year

The latest guidance issued by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), the UK's health watchdog, says that assessing patients for their risk of developing blood clots as soon as they are admitted to hospital could save 10,000 lives each year.

NICE launched the guideline on venous thromboembolism (VTE), which was jointly developed with the National Clinical Guideline Centre for Acute and Chronic Conditions, at the Royal College of Physicians in London yesterday. The guidance provides a checklist for doctors and nurses to ensure that all patients who are admitted to hospital for treatment, including non-surgical treatment and day procedures, are checked for signs of blood clots (also known as deep vein thrombosis or DVT).

Professor Tom Treasure, chair of the NICE Guideline Development Group, said: "NICE first issued guidance on VTE in 2007 but this was for surgical patients only. This latest guideline will broaden it out to all patients who are admitted to hospital. It will ensure that the risk of blood clots, a silent killer, is always assessed."

It is estimated that 25,000 patients admitted to hospital each year die from VTE, where a blood clot breaks away and travels to the lungs causing a blockage - a pulmonary embolism. The introduction of this new guidance will see patients offered a range of treatments, such as blood-thinning drugs like heparin or anti-embolism stockings, to reduce their risk of blood clots.

Professor Ian Gilmore, president of the Royal College of Physicians, said that the majority of patients coming into hospital will be appropriate for preventative treatments.
The guideline gives recommendations on how to assess if patients are at risk of developing VTE, and importantly their risk of bleeding before blood-thinning drug treatments are used. This includes considering if patients are likely to have reduced mobility for three or more days, the type of procedure they are being admitted for, the age of patients and any pre-existing conditions. Specific recommendations are given for women who are pregnant or have given birth within the previous six weeks.

27th January 2010

From: Healthcare

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