Plans to cut hospital deaths by preventing fatal blood clots

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Thirty thousand people are hospitalised each year in Australia due to VTE.
Thirty thousand people are hospitalised each year in Australia due to VTE.

Australians at risk of potentially fatal blood clots will benefit from NHMRC’s new Australian Guideline for the Prevention of Venous Thromboembolism (VTE).

These evidence-based guidelines developed by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) provide recommendations on prevention of VTE for adult patients admitted to Australian hospitals.

Thirty thousand people are hospitalised each year in Australia due to VTE.  Approximately 2,000 Australians die each year from VTE. Eighty percent of these cases are related to prior hospitalisation for either surgery or acute illness.

VTE is the technical term for blood clots that form in the leg (deep vein thrombosis - DVT), affecting blood flow and causing severe pain and swelling.

When a blood clot forms, some of it can break off and travel to the lungs blocking blood supply and preventing the lungs from sending oxygen to the rest of the body. 

This type of clot (pulmonary embolism – PE) can lead to difficulty breathing and sudden death.

VTE prevention, though the routine use of simple measures such as compression stockings, anti-clotting medication and venous pumping devices, keeps people out of hospital, reduces complication rates and saves lives.

The Guideline is intended for use by doctors, nurses, pharmacists and allied health professionals but also provides useful information for consumers and those responsible for the quality and safety of healthcare.

"It is essential that we have an evidence-based prevention guideline that sets out clear nationally agreed recommendations for Australian clinicians to reduce the incidence of VTE," said the CEO of the NHMRC, Professor Warwick Anderson.

Professor Anderson encouraged clinicians to use the Guideline. The Guideline was developed over an 18 month period using the best available evidence and a rigorous methodology.

The development of this Guideline was funded and managed by NHMRC’s National Institute of Clinical Studies (NICS) in collaboration with a multidisciplinary expert committee chaired by professor Michael Frommer, from the School of Public Health at The University of Sydney. 

Representation on the committee comprised experts from key clinical disciplines including nursing, pharmacy, public health and patient groups.

The Guideline underwent an extensive public consultation in April of this year.
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