Prevention of venous thromboembolism (VTE)

Being unwell and going into hospital increases the risk of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE). Doctors and nurses are aware of this and when a patient is admitted to hospital, the risk of blood clots is assessed [1, 2]. Thromboprophylaxis is the word used for treatments that help to prevent blood clots [2].



There are two forms of thromboprophylaxis—taking low doses of anticoagulants, or wearing special stockings, which are designed to improve blood flow in the legs and reduce the chance that a DVT will form [1,2].

Having an operation or being in bed because of a serious illness are common reasons for a hospital stay and these patients are routinely assessed for their risk of VTE. Thromboprophylaxis is prescribed if the risk is high and the probability of complications such as bleeding are low [2]. For example, patients having hip or knee replacement surgery are at risk of VTE and are usually given small doses of anticoagulants, often continued for several weeks after the operation [2].