Act now to prevent blood clots becoming the next MRSA warns NHS Confederation

NHS trust boards must act to stop deadly blood clots becoming “the next MRSA” in the eyes of patients and the media, the NHS Confederation is warning.

In a report to trusts, the confederation says clinical issues such as healthcare acquired infections have the capacity to cause “enormous damage” to trust reputations.

With public, political and media interest in venous thromboembolism (VTE) increasing, checks for blood clot prevention could become part of future trust assessments, the report says.

The condition causes the deaths of around 40,000 hospital patients each year, as well as increasing treatment costs and hospital stay length.

The cost implications of risk assessing patients are likely to be minor when compared with the costs of treating post-surgical deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism patients, the confederation says.

Policy director Nigel Edwards said: “Managers, clinicians and patients have a real chance to build on the success of reducing infections. If we work together we can save lives and reduce NHS costs by improving the assessment of all patients and using cost effective preventative measures.”

Hospital boards could include venous thromboembolism measurements in trust quality dashboards and appoint clinical champions to promote the issue to colleagues, as well as appointing lead non-executive directors for the condition.

Baseline assessments can be used to establish how trusts are performing on assessing patients and boards can ask whether venous thromboembolism prevention is included in staff training.

Primary care trusts could include risk assessments and prophylaxis targets in contracts with providers.

The report comes as a survey by thrombosis charity Lifeblood reveals the public is largely unaware of the risk of blood clots.

From HSJ:

Health Direct is amazed that the public is largely unaware of the tens of thousands that deie risk of VTE, because Health Direct certainly is not.

Within only a few months of lauching the Health Direct blog we came across the terrible death toll that VTE causes in the UK.

On March 08, 2005 Health Direct posted- 25,000 die from preventable VTE
Each year over 25,000 people in England die from venous thromboembolism (VTE) contracted in hospital.

This is more than the combined total of deaths from breast cancer, AIDS and traffic accidents, and more than twenty five times the number who die from MRSA.

And again, on October 31, 2006 we posted NHS patient safety ‘must improve’ says Healthcare Commission

More needs to be done to improve standards of safety in the NHS and independent sector, a watchdog says. The Healthcare Commission said that while most patients received safe care, standards were inconsistent in England and Wales.

The watchdog said there was no clear indication on the number of deaths that could be avoided.

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