The prevalence of prophylaxis for deep vein thrombosis in acute hospital trusts

Susan Elizabeth Campbell, Anne Elizabeth Walker, Marion Kay Campbell, G. D. Lowe, D. Harper, F. G. Fowkes, J. C. Petrie, TEMPEST Trial Group

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Objective. The effectiveness of activities to promote routine prophylaxis to prevent thromboembolism is difficult to assess because information about the prevalence of prophylaxis is sparse. The aim of this study was to assess the prevalence of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) prophylaxis for patients at risk in general medicine, general surgery, orthopaedics and gynaecology in Scotland and the North of England.

Design. Retrospective case note review of a random sample of episodes of care in a stratified random sample of directorates in Scotland and a convenience sample in England.

Setting. Twenty acute hospital directorates in Scotland and eight in the North of England.

Participants. Case notes of patients at risk of thrombosis and discharged from the selected directorates in a 12-month period (n = 742).

Main outcome measures. The proportion of patients receiving prophylaxis in each directorate.

Results. Overall, 469/526 (89%) of patients in Scotland and 199/216 (92%) in England received prophylaxis. The proportion varied from 71% in general medicine to 100% in orthopaedics. The frequency of use of different forms of prophylaxis varied between directorates. Approximately 60% of the patients who received prophylaxis received more than one form.

Conclusions. Prophylaxis for DVT is well established for procedures and conditions that are known to increase the risk of thrombosis and for which there are no contraindications. Additional efforts to promote prophylaxis for these conditions are unlikely to be cost effective. Further research is needed to establish whether rates are equally high in other conditions, and whether the high prophylaxis rates are due to clinical effectiveness initiatives.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-316
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal for Quality in Health Care
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • deep vein thrombosis
  • DVT prophylaxis
  • effective professional practice
  • heparin
  • prevalence
  • pulmonary embolism
  • quality of care
  • molecular-weight heparin
  • venous thromboembolism
  • prevention
  • audit
  • surgery
  • hip


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