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Plast Reconstr Surg. 2011 Nov;128(5):1085-92. doi: 10.1097/PRS.0b013e31822b67ff.

Changing practice: implementation of a venous thromboembolism prophylaxis protocol at an academic medical center.

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Section of Plastic Surgery, Department of Surgery, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA.



The Institute of Medicine has identified a "quality chasm" between existing evidence and actual clinical practice. The Venous Thromboembolism Prevention Study has shown that enoxaparin prophylaxis is a safe and effective way of preventing postoperative venous thromboembolism. This article presents a "how-to" guide for implementation of a venous thromboembolism prophylaxis protocol.


The Venous Thromboembolism Prevention Study prophylaxis protocol included provision of postoperative, prophylactic dose enoxaparin for the duration of inpatient stay. Compliance was considered at the individual patient level and defined as appropriate provision of protocol-appropriate enoxaparin prophylaxis. Multiple simultaneous interventions to improve protocol compliance were undertaken. Both physician and physician assistant "champions" were identified. Interventions included staff and surgeon educational sessions, discussion of venous thromboembolism-themed articles at journal club, and monthly e-mail reminders specific to the protocol, among others. Compliance rates over time were compared using the chi-square test.


The authors reviewed medical records from 945 consecutive admissions to the plastic surgery service who met Venous Thromboembolism Prevention Study eligibility criteria over a 30-month period. Initial education sessions significantly increased compliance over baseline (55 percent versus 10 percent; p<0.001). After formal protocol adoption, compliance increased steadily over the first 9 months and peaked by 1 year. In the absence of any direct intervention, compliance remained stable at 90 percent for the final 12 months of the study. This was significantly increased when compared with the period of time immediately following protocol adoption (90 percent versus 77 percent; p<0.001).


This article provides readers with a practical approach for implementation of a venous thromboembolism prophylaxis protocol at their hospital.

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