The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), through the Inpatient Prospective Payment System 2009, determined that VTE during a hospitalization for total knee or hip replacement was a hospital-acquired condition that will not be reimbursable.6 This is not the case in general medical inpatients. Also of interest, observational studies suggest that 50% of patients who develop a VTE in hospital will do so despite appropriate prophylaxis.
Surgical patient populations are not addressed in the ACP update but are covered in the 2012 Chest updated guidelines. The recommendations for surgical patients have no major changes since 2008 except for choice of anticoagulant for specific patient populations and new categories of intermediate and high risk, the specifics of which are beyond the scope of this review.
Surgical patients with risk factors for VTE undergoing major procedures should receive pharmacologic prophylaxis with the addition of mechanical prophylaxis. For patients with a high risk of bleeding, mechanical prophylaxis can be used alone until bleeding risk diminishes.
Caution is recommended for any patient undergoing neuraxial analgesia or anesthesia when considering pharmacologic prophylaxis. Routine use of pharmacologic prophylaxis is recommended in patients undergoing bariatric surgery, elective hip replacement, hip fracture surgery, major thoracic surgery, or major open urologic procedures regardless of VTE risk factors, and should be extended in patients with additional VTE risks. All other surgical populations should be evaluated for bleeding risk and VTE risk factors prior to decision for pharmacologic and/or mechanical prophylaxis.
HM takeaways: In medical populations including stroke, routine use of VTE prophylaxis is not recommended, and should only be instituted if they are at high risk of VTE and the benefit in a decreased incidence of VTE outweighs the risk of bleeding.
Dr. Pell is a hospitalist and assistant professor of medicine at the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine.