AHRQ Views: Blog posts from AHRQ leaders
World Thrombosis Day: An Ideal Time to Use AHRQ Tools to Help Prevent Blood Clots
Despite the best efforts of clinicians, some patients develop deadly blood clots known as venous thromboembolism or VTE. Also known as deep vein thrombosis, a VTE is a blood clot that forms in the deep veins of the legs, arms, or pelvis. If the clot dislodges and travels to the lung, it is called a pulmonary embolism. While anyone may develop a dangerous blood clot, hospital patients are often at higher risk because of their underlying condition, recent surgery, or immobility.
VTE is estimated to affect 350,000 to 600,000 Americans annually, and it ranks among the most common preventable causes of hospital death. World Thrombosis Day on October 13th is a reminder that protecting patients from this safety issue remains challenging, and that more can be done to prevent these adverse events.
To help providers face this challenge, AHRQ recently updated its Preventing Hospital-Associated Thromboembolism: A Guide for Effective Quality Improvement. Originally published in 2008, the updated tool incorporates the latest clinical knowledge from experts in the field on risk-assessment and prophylaxis strategies. Lessons learned and real world examples enhance the step-by-step guidance on how to start, implement, evaluate, and sustain a hospital-based VTE prevention strategy. It also includes:
- New and improved metrics for tracking the adequacy of VTE prophylaxis.
- Examples of how electronic health records can facilitate the process.
- New tools and examples to support implementation.
Many hospitals across the country have relied on this resource to improve their VTE prophylaxis. For example, an AHRQ Impact Case Study describes the efforts of five New Mexico hospitals that revised their protocol for preventing VTE after participating in a series of onsite learning sessions to implement this AHRQ tool.
Some patients may continue on VTE prophylaxis, such as blood thinners, after they leave the hospital. Easy-to-read AHRQ resources are available to help patients and their family members understand the purpose of blood thinners and how to stay safe while taking these potentially dangerous medications. Our 8-minute video and companion brochure are designed to save time by educating patients on the basics, reserving limited clinical time for patient-specific instructions and questions. The video and brochure are available in English and Spanish on AHRQ’s Web site or from the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse (800-358-9295).
World Thrombosis Day is a timely opportunity to examine, discuss, or establish your organization’s VTE prevention strategies. These are just some of the resources available to help clinicians prevent VTE in their patients. We encourage you to find an evidence-based tool that works for you and take on this challenge.