More people receiving checks for blood clot risk, following NICE's call for screening
The number of people who are being screened for their risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE) on admission to hospital has increased following recommendations made by NICE, figures reveal.
Department of Health statistics, published today, show that 68 per cent of the 2.9 million adult patients who were admitted to care in England between October and December last year were checked for their risk of blood clots.
Just over half, 53 per cent, of patients received a check when the first data collection was made in June 2010.
Between October and December 2010, the proportion of hospital providers who reported that at least half of adult admissions were risk assessed or VTE increased from 74.0 to 84.1 per cent.
The number of providers who reported that at least 90 per cent of adult admissions were risk assessed for VTE increased from 20.9 per cent to 30.1 per cent over the same period.
It is estimated that 25,000 people who are admitted to hospital die from preventable VTE each year, leading the Department of Health to make prevention of this “silent killer” a priority across the NHS for the forthcoming years.
Certain people admitted to hospital are known to be at very high risk of blood clots - for example, those who will be immobile and bed-ridden for a long time, those undergoing extensive surgery and patients who are very overweight.
But other risk factors that add to this, like dehydration or a women being on the combined contraceptive pill, may not be spotted.
NICE says all adult patients, without exception, should be assessed with a checklist on being admitted to hospital.
Around 10,000 lives could be saved each year if hospitals follow NICE's guidelines on reducing the risk of VTE.
Published in January 2010, the guideline recommends that all patients on admission to hospital are assessed for their risk of VTE, assessed for their risk of bleeding, are offered verbal and written information on VTE, and offered VTE prophylaxis if appropriate.
The latest figures suggest that an increasing number of hospitals across the country are now offering all patients the checks for blood clot risk, in line with NICE's recommendations.
University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire, for example, has seen a dramatic improvement in the number of patients being routinely assessed for VTE risk on admission to hospital and offered appropriate prophylaxis.
Staff at the hospitals developed an electronic risk assessment tool to help them implement the NICE guideline.
The tool provides timely reminders to clinical staff, documents the risk assessment in the electronic patient record, provides guidance according to NICE recommendations and then requires confirmation that guidance has been followed to help with auditing.
Since its launch, the tool has helped to increase the number of patients receiving a risk assessment from 37 per cent to over 90 per cent.
The Trust is now undertaking around 9,000 electronic VTE risk assessments per month, and patients are being given prescriptions in accordance with NICE recommendations in over 90 per cent of the cases.
The development of the electronic risk tool is just one of the high-quality entries submitted to NICE for this year's Shared Learning Awards.
Now in their sixth year, the awards were established to recognise and reward innovative ways of using and implementing NICE guidance within the NHS, local authorities, and voluntary organisations and to encourage shared learning.
The overall winners of this year's awards will be announced in May at the NICE annual conference in Birmingham.
All examples of shared learning are available on the NICE shared learning database.
4 March 2011