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National VTE Prevention Programme helping to save lives

Implementation has led to 20% fewer blood clots and a 40% fall in events related to inadequate preventative treatment

Ingrid Torjesen

Monday, 24 June 2013

A national programme to improve the outcomes for patients with hospital associated venous thromboembolism (VTE) has been shown to be successful by a study undertaken at King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

King’s College Hospital in London was the first VTE Exemplar Centre and is home to an extensive quality improvement programme aligned to the National VTE Prevention Programme. Root cause analysis of all cases of hospital-associated thrombosis was carried out to identify problems, measure outcomes and facilitate learning to improve VTE prevention.

Implementation of the national programme at King’s resulted in 20% fewer hospital-associated blood clots and a 40% reduction in events related to inadequate preventative treatment, according to an evaluation published in the journal Chest. This is the first published outcomes data relating to the National VTE Prevention Programme and illustrates how a systematic approach to prevention can reduce VTE and benefit patient safety.

The evaluation shows that documented VTE risk assessment improved from less than 40% to >90% in the first nine months. As a result the proportion of hospital-associated thromobosis attributable to inadequate thromboprophylaxis fell significantly from 37.5% to 22.4%.

Professor Roopen Arya, clinical lead for the National VTE Prevention Programme, who led the work at King’s College Hospital, said: “This has been one of the biggest quality and safety improvement initiatives I have witnessed in the NHS.”

“The latest data shows that almost 95% of all patients are now known to be risk assessed for VTE on admission to hospitals. It is pleasing that we have been able to show this has resulted in improved outcomes for patients and it is very important that we build on this and develop a national registry of hospital-associated thrombosis so we can gather data from all hospitals as well as share the learning and improve practice.”

Dr Mike Durkin, director of patient safety for NHS England, said: “The introduction of a system-wide approach to VTE prevention in England has been a huge step in making our hospitals a safer place for patients. It is all the more important that we are now demonstrating through this work at King’s that this hard work has improved outcomes." 

NHS England has recently launched a website to host resources from the National VTE Prevention Programme for the use of healthcare professionals. The website includes the new Commissioning Toolkit for VTE Prevention, the national VTE Registry, electronic VTE training modules and patient information leaflets in six languages. 

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