Belfast Trust achieves regional target on risk assessment for VTE

21/04/2016

Every year, an estimated 25,000 people in the UK could die from VTE - Venous Thrombo Embolis - associated with hospitalisation. Yet VTE can be difficult to diagnose, and can very easily be confused with less serious conditions.

To assist with the task of assessing who is at risk, the Department of Health developed a tool that includes a thrombosis risk section, and set the regional target for risk assessment at over 95% of all adult in-patients being appropriately assessed.

We are delighted to report that in March 2016 Belfast Trust achieved this goal – and to date are the only Trust in Northern Ireland to do so.

About VTE

VTE kills more people each year than breast cancer, road traffic accidents and AIDS combined. It can be difficult to diagnose, and can very easily be confused with less serious conditions. For example, a DVT does not always cause any swelling or changes in the leg, sometimes just pain, and so can be mistaken for a torn leg muscle or a sprain. Any adult can get a DVT (Deep Vein thrombosis), but they are thankfully rarer in children.

Potentially every patient may be at risk of VTE so to aid the task of assessing who is at risk, the Department of Health developed a tool that includes a thrombosis risk section which has patient related and admission related risk factors – this has been placed in the inside cover of the regional kardex. The regional target for risk assessment has been set to ensure that over 95% of all adult in-patients have been appropriately assessed.

Significant Achievement

It is a hugely significant achievement that Belfast Trust achieved the target in March. The success of which belongs to each and every member of staff who have worked over these last months. In addition to checking compliance for assessment, we have also been collating all hospital diagnosed VTE and have recorded a reduction of over two thirds of in-patient PE in one site at the Trust when their local assessment reached 100%.

Most hospital-acquired VTE occur AFTER discharge – the average DVT is on day seven, the average pulmonary embolism is on day 21 - all long after the patient has gone home. Most adults admitted to hospital are at risk of developing a DVT without preventative treatment. 60% of all cases of VTE are linked to hospital admission within the previous 90 days. Of those, it has been calculated than one out of every eight die. One in three surgical patients can develop a DVT if no preventative measures are given (Lifeblood - The Thrombosis Charity; NICE)