An All-Party Parliamentary report published this week has highlighted the failure of hospitals to get to grips with reducing unnecessary patient deaths from deep vein thrombosis.

According to the report, more than 10,700 hospital patients may have lost their lives because National Health Service Trusts have failed to ensure the implementation of key recommendations on the prevention of DVT published by the All-Party Parliamentary Thrombosis group over seven months ago.

To put the situation in perspective, it claims that the number of unnecessary deaths from DVT in the last seven months may be nearly three times the number of fatalities from hospital acquired infections, such as MRSA and clostridium difficile.

And yet, although 99% of NHS Trusts admit to being fully aware of the recommendations on how to manage and treat the condition, “just 32% are taking steps to risk assess patients and bring their practices in line with new recommendations”, the report claims. As a result, the Group is calling on the government to make it mandatory for Trusts to ensure its recommendations are set in place.

Poor risk assessment
Furthermore, 52% of patients in hospital are at risk of developing DVT, but the report showed that less than half will be told of this risk and a third will be risk assessed by a healthcare professional to gauge whether they should receive life-saving preventative treatment for condition, which can massively reduce the mortality rate (from 30% down to 2%-8%).

“The total costs of managing DVT within the NHS are estimated to be £640 million, and it’s deeply concerning that the simple step of risk assessing patients is not being taken,” commented Dr Beverley Hunt, Medical Director of Lifeblood.

The report flags three major barriers holding back proper risk assessment of patients: a lack of centralised risk assessment tools; resource constraints surrounding implementing risk assessment; and the costs of training staff.