World Thrombosis Day highlights need for systematic approach to VTE

13 Oct 2014 | Safe Surgery NZ

Vascular surgeon Mr Ian Civil, clinical lead for the Health Quality & Safety Commission’s reducing perioperative harm programme, welcomes World Thrombosis Day today as an opportunity to highlight the importance of hospitals ensuring they have a systematic approach to the assessment and prevention of venous thromboembolism (VTE).

VTE, along with heart attacks and strokes, is one of the world’s top three cardiovascular killers, and a person’s risk factor increases ten-fold on admission to hospital. Contributing factors include general ill health, reduced mobility and poor fluid intake, as well as surgery, particularly orthopaedic and other high-risk operations.

In its inaugural year, World Thrombosis Day, for which the Commission is partnering with the International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis, is highlighting VTE.

‘It is a time where we should emphasise the systematic approach to assessment and prophylaxis of VTE,’ says Mr Civil.

But he warns against getting sidetracked with discussions about the relative merits of different forms of prophylaxis.

‘That is an academic debate, which relies on research and publication, and which will go on, and whatever the answer is today it may be a different answer in a year’s time or five years’ time.

‘All units should have an agreed approach to VTE prophylaxis, backed up by thorough consideration of the literature. The goal of the Commission is to ensure every patient gets an assessment and that patient gets the agreed treatment which that unit expects for that patient.’

Help for introducing hospital VTE prevention programmes was included in a 2012 Commission-sponsored project to establish a national policy framework for VTE.

Other resources raising awareness of VTE on the Commission website include a link to Southern Cross Hospitals’ Blood clots and YOU brochure for patients, which has been endorsed by the Commission. The brochure recently won the top clinical award in the biennial Leaders in Quality Awards run by the New Zealand Private Surgical Hospitals Association.

For more information about the Commission’s VTE awareness resources, contact Gabrielle Nicholson, Reducing Perioperative Harm Progamme, (04) 901 6083,

Last updated 21/10/2014