Introduction and overview

Introduction and overview

This quality standard covers the reduction in risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE) in adults admitted as hospital inpatients or formally admitted to a hospital bed for day-case procedures.

Pregnant women and women up to 6 weeks post partum who are admitted to hospital are also specifically covered by this quality standard. The prevention of VTE in pregnant women in primary and community settings is covered by the relevant Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists guidance (Thrombosis and embolism during pregnancy and the puerperium, reducing the risk [Green-top guidance 37], 2009).


VTE is an important cause of death in hospitalised patients, and treatment of non-fatal symptomatic VTE and related long-term morbidities is associated with a considerable cost to the health service. In 2004–5, there were around 64,000 finished consultant episodes (that is, periods of care under a consultant within an NHS trust) with a diagnosis of VTE. In 2005, VTE was registered as the underlying cause of death in more than 6500 patients, although this figure is likely to be an underestimate of the true incidence. The risk of developing VTE depends on the condition and/or procedure for which the patient is admitted and on any predisposing risk factors (such as age, obesity and concomitant conditions). This quality standard provides clinicians, managers and service users with a description of what a high-quality VTE prevention service should look like.


The quality standard for VTE prevention applies to part of the care pathway for the prevention and management of VTE. Services across the care pathway should be commissioned from and coordinated across all relevant agencies. An integrated approach to provision of services is fundamental to the delivery of high-quality care to patients for preventing and managing VTE.