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Keywords:

  • venous thromboembolism;
  • pulmonary embolus;
  • thromboprophylaxis;
  • hospitalised-associated thrombosis;
  • mortality

Summary

Venous thromboembolism in adults is related to recent hospitalisation in approximately half of all cases and approximately half of all hospitalised adult patients are considered to be at risk by conventional criteria. Due to advances in surgical practice, the identification of surgical patients in need of prophylaxis has become less rather than more certain. Faster surgical technique, regional anaesthesia and early mobilisation are considered to reduce the risk of venous thromboembolism and hence possibly obviate the need for prophylaxis after early discharge from hospital. An increasing proportion of patients with hospital-acquired venous thromboembolism are medical patients, but the need to identify medical patients that require thromboprophylaxis is a new aspect of clinical practice for many physicians and prophylaxis remains under-utilised in non-surgical hospitalised patients. In this review prevention of hospital-acquired venous thromboembolism is considered as a patient safety issue in the context of changing clinical practice. Strategies for refining and validating risk assessment models and evaluating the effect of risk assessment and thromboprophylaxis are suggested.