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Hospital Acquired DVT

Every year in England, 25,000 patients will die from a hospital acquired blood clot. According to the NHS, this is more than the combined total of deaths from breast cancer, AIDS and traffic accidents, and more than 25 times the number who die from MRSA.

Preventing hospital acquired blood clots

Whether due to illness or surgery, the majority of hospital patients are either completely immobile, or are bed bound for most of the day. This lack of mobility puts them in increased danger of developing a blood clot in the leg, a condition commonly known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). This can be fatal, because if the clot breaks off and travels to the lungs it will cause a blockage.

Because of the risk posed to hospital patients, hospital staff must take all the precautions available to help prevent a blood clot occurring. If a patient is admitted, a risk assessment should be performed, allowing medical professionals to identify whether a patient is in danger of developing a clot. Possible risk factors include:-

  • Being overweight;
  • Smoking;
  • Old age;
  • Poor circulation;
  • Cancer;
  • Pregnancy or a recent C-section;
  • Surgery to the lower body.

If a patient is deemed to be at risk after this assessment, measures should be put in place as a precaution. Compression stockings should be provided to encourage the flow of blood in the legs, and anti-coagulation medication administered to stop the blood clotting unnecessarily.

Whether or not a patient is given preventative treatment, medical professionals should continue to be aware of the risks posed to each and every patient, as problems can arise during the course of their hospital stay. Nurses should therefore look for signs that a blood clot is developing, including pain and swelling in the legs, a heavy ache in the affected area and warm skin in the area of the clot. If there is any suspicion that a patient is developing a blood clot, treatment should be provided without delay.

Why do hospital acquired blood clots happen?

But unfortunately not all hospitals follow the strict guidelines regarding DVT prevention. This failure usually arises because medical professionals:-

  • Neglect to screen patients being admitted to hospital for DVT risk factors;
  • Perform an assessment, but do not appreciate the risks involved;
  • Fail to use preventative measures such as compression stockings;
  • Fail to detect the warning signs in a patient who is developing a blood clot.

Negligent hospital blood clots

If a hospital fails to meet NHS guidelines and a patient suffers a hospital acquired blood clot, there will be a case of medical negligence. If this has happened to you or your loved one, do not hesitate to contact a solicitor who specialises in this area of the law, as you could be entitled to compensation.

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