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Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2012 Aug;38(8):348-58.

Is development of postoperative venous thromboembolism related to thromboprophylaxis use? A case-control study in the Veterans Health Administration.

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US Department of Veterans Affairs, Center for Health Quality, Outcomes and Economic Research, Bedford VA Hospital, Bedford, Massachusetts, USA.



Observational studies continue to report thromboprophylaxis underuse for postoperative pulmonary embolism/deep vein thrombosis (pPE/DVT) despite the long-standing existence of prevention guidelines. However, data are limited on whether thromboprophylaxis use differs between patients developing pPE/DVT versus those who do not or on why prophylaxis is withheld.


Administrative data (2002-2007) from 28 Veterans Health Administration hospitals were screened for discharges with (1) pPE/DVT as flagged by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Patient Safety Indicator software and (2) pharmacoprophylaxis-recommended procedures, and the medical records were reviewed to ascertain true pPE/DVT cases. Controls were selected by matching cases by hospital, age, sex, diagnosis-related group, and predicted probability for developing pPE/DVT, and who underwent a pharmacoprophylaxis-recommended procedure. Records were assessed for "appropriate pharmacoprophylaxis use," defined primarily per American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP) guidelines, and reasons for anticoagulant nonuse.


The 116 case-control pairs were similar in terms of demographics, surgery type, ACCP risk category, and appropriate pharmacoprophylaxis rates overall. Of the highest-risk patients, respective pharmacoprophylaxis rates among cases and controls were 88% versus 92% among hip/knee replacements and 31% versus 48% among cancer patients. Of the cases and controls who did not receive appropriate pharmacoprophylaxis, only about 25% had documented contraindications. Reviewers identified contraindications in 14% of cases and 9% of controls.


Similarities in preventive pPE/DVT practice between cases and controls suggest that pPE/DVTs occur despite implementation of guideline-adherent practices.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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