DVT - The importance of prevention with hospitalised patients


Missing deep vein thrombosis (DVT) can be fatal to anyone who experiences a blood clot. If not treated adequately, a clot can travel to the lung and cause a potentially fatal pulmonary embolism. DVT's are more likely to occur when you are inactive or less active than usual for a long period. Whilst it can occur in hospitals, DVT can also happen in the weeks after you have been discharged.

Surgery in hospital can lead to DVT

The risk of developing DVT is partially dependent on why you were in hospital in the first place – certain risk factors are involved that make you more prone to developing a clot. Women who have just given birth or are pregnant have their own risk factors that are specific to their condition.

Risk factors of DVT

  • You have undergone an operation for a long period of time – 90 minutes for a general operation, 60 minutes if the procedure was on your leg hip or abdomen
  • You are immobile for at least 3 days
  • you are having an operation for an inflammatory or abdominal condition like appendicitis

Is There Anything I Can Ask About my Risk of DVT?

Your risk of DVT should be checked when you arrive at hospital, 24 hours after that and whenever your condition changes. If not, there are some questions you can ask to notify them that these checks should take place. These include asking if you are at risk of DVT, inquiring about your likeliness of having problems with bleeding and, any problems with the DVT treatment you may receive. It may all sound like a lot, but DVT needs to be detected at an as early stage as possible.

Being aware of the symptoms of DVT is something the team in charge of your health care can discuss with you. Symptoms can include pain or swelling in the leg, hot or discoloured skin in the affected area, shortness of breath and coughing up blood. Sometimes there will be few or no symptoms of DVT. However, steps can be taken whilst you are in hospital to avoid these symptoms happening such as anti- embolism or compression stockings and drugs to thin the blood called anti-coagulants.

If the medical staff failed to encourage you to mobilise yourself whilst in their care or missed the symptoms, it can have fatal and devastating effects. Specialist treatment is needed and without it, what should have been a short stay could turn into a long term nightmare.

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