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Have You Suffered DVT in Hospital?

In 2005, the House of Commons Health Committee reported that per year around 25,000 people in the UK die from preventable hospital acquired deep vein thrombosis (DVT). This prompted the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) to produce guidelines on how to reduce the risk of DVT in patients admitted to hospital.

However, five years on from the publication of these guidelines, DVT continues to be a significant problem in our hospitals. Patients are still suffering preventable clots, and many are still suffering fatal complications.

Preventing deep vein thrombosis in hospital

Deep vein thrombosis is when a clot forms in one of the deep veins in the legs. It can occur in anyone, but is most common in those who are subject to long periods of inactivity, and those with poor circulatory problems. As such, hospital patients are very susceptible to DVT, as many will be bed-bound for the duration of their stay.

However, DVT can be extremely serious, as a clot will block the blood supply to the leg. Furthermore the clot may become dislodged and travel to another part of the body such as the lungs. This is known as a pulmonary embolism and will prevent blood reaching the lungs, something which can be fatal.

It is therefore extremely important medical professionals do everything in their power to prevent a patient developing DVT. According to the NICE guidelines, this should include the following:-

  • Assess all patients on admission to identify those who are at increased risk of DVT;
  • Assess all patients at risk of DVT for risk of bleeding;
  • Provide adequate treatment to prevent DVT such as using TED stockings and (if a patient is not at risk of bleeding) medication;
  • Reassess an at-risk patient after 24 hours or if their clinical situation changes.

Hospital staff should also remember:-

  • Not to allow a patient to become dehydrated;
  • To encourage patient mobility as soon as possible;
  • Not to regard medication such as aspirin to be sufficient in preventing DVT;
  • To consider temporary inferior vena caval filters to patients who are at very high risk.

Failure to prevent in-hospital DVT

If medical professionals fail to properly assess a patient or fail to monitor their condition while in hospital, a substandard level of care will have been provided. If this causes a patient to develop deep vein thrombosis and complications ensue, there could be grounds for a medical negligence claim.

If you think you or a loved one has been affected by medical negligence, you need to speak to a solicitor as soon as possible. This will help clarify your legal position, helping you understand whether you are entitled to compensation.

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