Every patient who is admitted to an English hospital is to have their risk of developing life-threatening blood clots assessed, the government has announced.
The new instruction to hospital staff is to be implemented next autumn in order to help doctors pinpoint which patients are most at risk of conditions such as deep-vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism.
The Department of Health said that venous thromboembolism – the general medical term for blood clots in the veins – among patients in hospital accounts for around 25,000 deaths in England each year.
Doctors admitting patients to hospital will use a checklist to establish the likelihood of them developing a clot. High-risk patients include those over 60, those with cancer or respiratory diseases and those about to undergo major surgery.
Sir Liam Donaldson, the government’s chief medical officer, said: “The dangers of venous thromboembolism in hospitalised patients have long been recognised, but our challenge was to find a systematic approach to identify patients most at risk. Creating a standardised national preventive strategy on this scale, is a world first.”
The process could save thousands of lives each year, he added.
The Department of Health said the cost of the new guidelines would be minimal, as doctors already carry out risk assessments on new patients.
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