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JAAPA. 2010 Jun;23(6):27-30, 32-5.

PA-driven VTE risk assessment improves compliance with recommended prophylaxis.

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University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA.



Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in hospitalized patients, particularly surgical patients. We hypothesize that PAs are well-positioned to assist health systems with implementation of efforts to reduce the rates of this in-hospital complication and increase adherence to published standards for VTE prophylaxis.


We conducted a retrospective cohort study of general surgical patients who underwent an operation at the University of Michigan between July 2005 and June 2007. The PAs in the Department of Surgery implemented a VTE assessment and prophylaxis intervention in June 2006. Preintervention VTE risk scores were calculated using patient demographic information, operating room data, and diagnosis codes from the International Statistical Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification (ICD-9-CM). Those calculated scores were then tested on patients who had a VTE risk score documented by PAs. Postintervention VTE was determined using ICD-9-CM diagnosis codes for deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or pulmonary embolism (PE) and identified as "acquired in hospital" or readmitted with a principal diagnosis of DVT or PE within 30 days following surgery. We then compared the frequency with which patients in the preintervention and postintervention periods received recommended VTE prophylaxis.


Overall, 2,046 patients underwent surgery during the study period. There were 1,079 patients in the preintervention group and 967 patients in the postintervention group, with no systematic differences in the case mix between the two groups. For all patients with a risk score of 3 or higher (indicating high and highest risk combined), orders for appropriate prophylaxis improved from an average of 23.1% in the preintervention group to an average of 63.7% in the postintervention group. Similarly, for all patients with a risk score of 5 or higher (indicating highest risk), orders for appropriate prophylaxis improved from an average of 29.4% in the preintervention group to an average of 69.5% in the postintervention group.


Through a PA-driven VTE risk assessment process, we dramatically increased the number of patients within our health system who were prescribed appropriate orders for VTE prophylaxis according to published guidelines and according to individual patient risk.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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