Deep Vein Thrombosis
We associate DVT with long-haul flights but the risk is minimal compared to that of being in an NHS hospital.
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) was identified 60 years ago and 30 years later a cure was found for it. It is the biggest preventable death risk yet despite this, 25,000 people in UK die each year from DVT which has been acquired while in hospital. DVT means that blood clotting has occurred in the legs with the risk that a clot may break off and travel to the lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism, a blockage in the lungs. This can result in death. At their peak, deaths from hospital-acquired infections caused 10,000 deaths.
The NHS Medical Director claims that the prevention of DVT is the main clinical priority. . In January 2010 guidelines were introduced requiring inpatients, surgical and non-surgical, to be screened for DVT. NHS Trust hospitals are charged with screening 90% of hospital patients but fewer than half meet this target.
Every hospital inpatient is asked a series of questions about personal and family health history. To add questions about potential clotting problems – there are about five questions, including, for example, is there active cancer or cancer treatment, are they over 60 ?– would take perhaps 15 seconds to ask and answer.
25,000 people dying each year from something preventable is the same number that die from less easily prevented conditions, like stroke. The picture is improving, but very slowly.