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Postgrad Med. 2011 Nov;123(6):91-101. doi: 10.3810/pgm.2011.11.2499.

Strategies for venous thromboembolism prophylaxis programs.

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  • 1University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Division of Hospital Medicine, Department of Medicine, Miami, FL 33136, USA.


Prevention of venous thromboembolism (VTE) is often overlooked in clinical practice, despite being a frequent and serious complication of various medical conditions and surgical procedures. The need to reduce hospital-acquired VTE is becoming increasingly recognized in the United States, and various quality-improvement initiatives have been developed. Prevention of VTE through evidence-based, practice-informed pathways includes assessing the patient's risk of VTE and provision of VTE at different stages: at admission, during hospitalization, and after hospital discharge. A multidisciplinary approach, involving physicians working with pharmacists, nurses, and other staff, can ensure that VTE prevention is routinely addressed. Patients admitted to hospitals should undergo VTE risk assessment, and the appropriate dose, type, and duration of medication should be administered with regular monitoring for VTE events and bleeding complications. Venous thromboembolism risk assessment should continue throughout hospitalization with appropriate prophylaxis when necessary. Patients may need to continue anticoagulation into the outpatient setting to achieve adequate prophylaxis duration. Useful approaches to ensure successful transition of care include patient education and support, with the accurate and timely transfer of information from the hospital to the primary care physician. Various strategies and tools are available to help physicians establish good VTE practices at each stage, including risk assessment models, reminders, clinical decision support systems, educational programs, and online resources, such as those from the Society of Hospital Medicine. Effective use of these strategies by physicians, with the engagement and support of nurses and pharmacists, should help to improve current practices and to reduce the considerable burden of VTE.

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