Not all blood clots can be prevented but the risk of developing one whilst you are in hospital can be significantly reduced.
The Government has made VTE prevention a top clinical priority. At the pre-admission clinic, or when you are admitted into hospital, your risk should be assessed by a doctor or nurse. If you are not assessed you must ask the nurse or doctor to assess you.
When you are risk assessed you will be asked a series of questions about your health, past illnesses, family history, medications you are taking etc. They will also assess your level of mobility. Putting this information together with your age and the reason why you are being admitted to hospital they will be able to assess whether you are at high, medium or low risk of having a blood clot.
If you are assessed at being at risk, you will be given treatment known as thromboprophylaxis to reduce the clots forming.
This may be anticoagulants (medicines that help to stop blood clots forming), either by mouth or injection. You may also be given treatment by mechanical devices such as intermittent pneumatic compression devices or rapid inflation venous foot pumps. You may also be asked to wear compression stockings.
Up to 60 percent of DVT cases occur during or after being in hospital, making it a leading preventable cause of hospital death
Your doctor or nurse should advise you of some important and simple things that you can do to help reduce your risk of a blood clot while you are in hospital. These should include:
- Make sure you get up and about as soon as you are able to
- How to exercise your legs whilst in bed
- Make sure you drink plenty of fluids
- Ensure you take any clot preventing medications (anticoagulants) prescribed whilst in hospital and after discharge as directed
If you are admitted to a hospital and don't receive a risk assessment, be proactive.
Ask for one
The risk assessment should be repeated after 24 hours, even if you were not deemed at risk on admission. It should also happen if anything in your condition or treatment changes during your stay.
Before you leave hospital it is important that it is explained to you what medication to take once you are home and for how long, and who to contact if you have symptoms or are worried you may have a blood clot.
It is very important that you are told the signs and symptoms of a blood clot to look out for once you have been discharged.
If you are not told any of the above