VTE Prophylaxis Compliance Lacking

Only one in six medical discharges receives venous thromboembolism (VTE) prophylaxis that conforms to the seventh American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP) guidelines, according to a report in the Journal of Hospital Medicine.

The study reported that, overall, 65.9% of medical discharges and 77.7% of surgical discharges received at least one order for VTE prophylaxis during hospitalization. However, when ACCP guidelines for type, dose, and duration are overlaid on the same data set, the percentage of "appropriate prophylaxis" dropped to 16.4% for medical discharges and 12.7% for surgical discharges (JHM 2009;doi 10.1002/jhm.526).

"If we’re going to be in the business of healthcare safety and quality … that’s not good enough," says lead investigator Alpesh Amin, MD, MBA, FHM, FACP, professor and chairman of the Department of Medicine and executive director of the hospitalist program at the University of California at Irvine. "We’re only doing it appropriately [part] of the time."

Dr. Amin has turned VTE research into an area of focus, and is in San Diego today presenting two additional VTE studies at CHEST 2009. One study, "Analysis of Inpatient and Outpatient Venous Thromboembolism Prophylaxis Patterns in U.S. Critical Care Patients," found that of 1,279 discharges analyzed, only 4% continued prophylaxis. The other study, "VTE Prophylaxis Across the Continuum of Care in U.S. Medical and Surgical Patients at Risk of Venous Thromboembolism," reported nearly 90% of patients received no outpatient prophylaxis.

All three studies were supported by Sanofi-Aventis U.S. Inc. The CHEST 2009 presentations have not been published yet. Dr. Amin says the studies show hospitalists can take charge of VTE orders to assure treatment is delivered in line with approved protocols.

"The idea of these studies was to say, ‘We’ve got these national recommendations; how well are we actually doing?’ " Dr. Amin says. "You can do something, but you ought to do it according to national guidelines."

For more information on the essential elements of VTE prevention and performance improvement, visit SHM’s VTE Resource Room.

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