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PLoS One. 2014 Sep 30;9(9):e106793. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0106793. eCollection 2014.

DVT surveillance program in the ICU: analysis of cost-effectiveness.

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Department of Surgery, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia, United States of America.
Department of Biostatistics, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia, United States of America.



Venous Thrombo-embolism (VTE--Deep venous thrombosis (DVT) and/or pulmonary embolism (PE)--in traumatized patients causes significant morbidity and mortality. The current study evaluates the effectiveness of DVT surveillance in reducing PE, and performs a cost-effectiveness analysis.


All traumatized patients admitted to the adult ICU underwent twice weekly DVT surveillance by bilateral lower extremity venous Duplex examination (48-month surveillance period--SP). The rates of DVT and PE were recorded and compared to the rates observed in the 36-month pre-surveillance period (PSP). All patients in both periods received mechanical and pharmacologic prophylaxis unless contraindicated. Total costs--diagnostic, therapeutic and surveillance--for both periods were recorded and the incremental cost for each Quality Adjusted Life Year (QALY) gained was calculated.


4234 patients were eligible (PSP--1422 and SP--2812). Rate of DVT in SP (2.8%) was significantly higher than in PSP (1.3%) - p<0.05, and rate of PE in SP (0.7%) was significantly lower than that in PSP (1.5%) - p<0.05. Logistic regression demonstrated that surveillance was an independent predictor of increased DVT detection (OR: 2.53 - CI: 1.462-4.378) and decreased PE incidence (OR: 0.487 - CI: 0.262-0.904). The incremental cost was $509,091/life saved in the base case, translating to $29,102/QALY gained. A sensitivity analysis over four of the parameters used in the model indicated that the incremental cost ranged from $18,661 to $48,821/QALY gained.


Surveillance of traumatized ICU patients increases DVT detection and reduces PE incidence. Costs in terms of QALY gained compares favorably with other interventions accepted by society.

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