• venous thromboembolism;
  • deep vein thrombosis;
  • pulmonary embolism;
  • performance measures;
  • pharmacist

Current prescribing practices for venous thromboembolism (VTE) prophylaxis and treatment are suboptimal, particularly regarding the use of appropriate prophylaxis in accordance with evidence-based guidelines. Failure to prevent avoidable VTE is associated with a substantial clinical and economic burden, due not only to the initial event, but also to VTE recurrence and long-term sequelae. Quality improvement initiatives such as the Surgical Care Improvement Project, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the National Quality Forum, and The Joint Commission have developed performance measures to address the shortfall and improve adherence with best-practice recommendations. Several studies have highlighted the benefits of pharmacist-led anticoagulation services for reducing the occurrence of VTE and bleeding complications while reducing excess hospitalization and health care costs. By assuming responsibility for anticoagulation management, pharmacists can ensure that at-risk patients receive the correct drug at the correct dose for the correct duration, from initial presentation to outpatient follow-up. Increasing continuity of care in this manner will ultimately improve patient outcomes and reduce costs. Pharmacists can also play a key role in helping hospitals achieve performance measures by aiding in the development and implementation of local VTE guidelines, policies, and other quality improvement initiatives; by helping to establish critical pathways with protocols; and by providing valuable education for other health care professionals and patients alike. Pharmacists are in an ideal position to facilitate achievement of VTE-related performance measures and can thus substantially contribute to the much-needed improvement in current VTE prevention and care.