In honor of Blood Clot Awareness Month 2022, here are 5 patient safety actions you can take to help save a life:
#1 Action for Blood Clot Awareness Month – Know Your Risks of Getting Blood Clots
According to the CDC:
- As many as 100,000 people die of blood clots each year.
- PE is a leading cause of death in a woman during pregnancy or just after having a baby.
- Sudden death – 1 of 4 people who have a PE die without warning.
- Blood clots are a leading cause of death in people with cancer after the cancer itself.
It is therefore important that you know your risks of getting blood clots:
- Hospitalization for illness or surgery
- Major surgery, particularly of the pelvis, abdomen, hip, knee
- Severe trauma, such as a car accident
- Injury to a vein that may have been caused by a broken bone or severe muscle injury
- Hip or knee replacement surgery
- Cancer and cancer treatments
- Use of birth control methods that contain estrogen, such as the pill, patch, or ring
- Pregnancy, which includes up to three months after the baby is born
- The use of hormone therapy that contains estrogen
- A family history of blood clots
- Confinement to bed or wheelchair
- Sitting too long, especially with legs crossed
- Age 55 or older
- Long-term diseases such as heart and lung conditions, or diabetes
#2 Action for Blood Clot Awareness Month – Don’t Delay: There is No Time to Wait if You Experience AFib/DVT/PE Symptoms
If you are experiencing symptoms of AFib/DVT/PE, please see your doctor.
The world has been a scary place over the last two years with the COVID-19 pandemic raging all around us. With social distancing and masking recommendations, reports of crowded hospitals, and patient deaths, understandably millions of adults experiencing AFib/DVT/PE symptoms may have felt safer to not go see their doctor or go to the hospital:
- Symptoms like pain, swelling, tenderness, and redness of the skin can be associated with deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a blood clot in a deep vein, usually in the leg, thigh, pelvis, or arm.
- Symptoms of pulmonary embolism (PE) include difficulty breathing, chest pain or discomfort, and fast or irregular heartbeat. A PE is a blood clot in the lungs that can be caused by DVT, and can reduce or cut off blood supply.
- Some people with atrial fibrillation (AFib) don’t notice any symptoms. Those who do have atrial fibrillation symptoms may have signs and symptoms such as chest pain, dizziness, and fatigue.
Unfortunately, symptoms of DVT are sometimes ignored, leaving some people at risk for serious health complications like PE, which can be deadly.
#3 Action for Blood Clot Awareness Month – Wear Your Mechanical Compression Devices Correctly
Has your doctor prescribed that you wear graduated compression stockings or a mechanical compression device?
If so, please make sure that you are wearing these stockings or devices correctly and as prescribed.
Graduated compression stockings and mechanical compression devices have been shown not to be effective unless they are worn at least 18- 20 hours a day.
Mechanical compression devices exert their therapeutic effects by limiting venous stasis and enhancing fibrinolysis.
For more information on the wearing of mechanical compression devices, please go to the PPAHS blog article, “How long should mechanical compression devices be worn each day to have the best patient outcome?”
#4 Action for Blood Clot Awareness Month – Save a Pregnant Mother’s Life, Use the OB VTE Safety Recommendations
The Institute for Healthcare Improvement and National Perinatal Association endorse use of the OB VTE Safety Recommendations.
The OB VTE Safety Recommendations address a critical patient issue, according to Frank Federico, RPh (Executive Director at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and Patient Safety Advisory Group at The Joint Commission).
According to Mr. Federico, “These recommendations focus on prevention measures that can easily be adopted and used by healthcare facilities to prevent VTE and help ensure that delivering mothers go home safely with their babies.”
The health and well-being of mothers and infants is central to the efforts of the National Perinatal Association. MaryAnne Laffin, NP, CNM, FACNM (Past President at the National Perinatal Association) says that pregnant mothers need to understand the added risk of VTE that pregnancy and delivery by cesarean section brings. In addition, they need to be aware of this risk not only antepartum or prior to delivery, but that this risk continues upon discharge and up to one month post partum.
“The risks of VTE are 4-5 times higher for pregnant women than for non-pregnant women,” says Ms. Laffin. “Women not only need to know of the added risk of blood clots during pregnancy, but that this risk increases following cesarean birth. Following c-section, the risk of VTE is almost two times higher. For the safety of pregnant women, the National Perinatal Association therefore encourages all hospitals to adopt these VTE safety recommendations.”
To download a copy of the OB VTE Safety Recommendations, please click here.
#5 Action for Blood Clot Awareness Month- Save a Stroke Patient’s Life, Use the Stroke VTE Safety Recommendations
Stroke is a leading cause of death and disability in the U.S., with 800,000 cases occurring each year. Each year in the United States, an estimated 300,000 cases of VTE occur. Mortality can be as high as 3.8 percent in patients with DVT and 38.9 percent in those with PE. VTE is associated with a high risk of death in the U.S. and Europe, with an estimated incidence rate of 1 in 1,000 patients. VTE is particularly common after a stroke. Approximately 20 percent of hospitalized immobile stroke patients will develop DVT, and 10 percent a PE.
The Stroke VTE Safety Recommendations may help reduce death and disability among stroke victims due to VTE. Developed by a group of leading neurological health and patient safety experts brought together by the Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety, the Stroke VTE Safety Recommendations incorporate the latest research.
The Stroke VTE Safety Recommendations provide four concise steps that:
- Assess all admitted patients with a stroke or rule out stroke diagnosis for VTE risk with an easy to use checklist.
- Provide the recommended prophylaxis regimen, which includes the use of mechanical prophylaxis and anticoagulant therapy.
- Reassesses the patient every 24 hours, prior to any surgical or procedural intervention or change in the patient’s condition.
- Ensure that the patient is provided appropriate VTE instructions and information upon hospital discharge or transition to rehabilitation.
The Stroke VTE Safety Recommendations can be viewed by clicking here.
In honor of Blood Clot Awareness Month 2022, take these 5 patient safety actions to save a life – it could be your life or the life of a loved one:
- #1 Action for Blood Clot Awareness Month – Know Your Risks of Getting Blood Clots
- #2 Action for Blood Clot Awareness Month – Don’t Delay: There is No Time to Wait if You Experience AFib/DVT/PE Symptoms
- #3 Action for Blood Clot Awareness Month – Wear Your Mechanical Compression Devices Correctly
- #4 Action for Blood Clot Awareness Month – Save a Pregnant Mother’s Life, Use the OB VTE Safety Recommendations
- #5 Action for Blood Clot Awareness Month – Save a Stroke Patient’s Life, Use the Stroke VTE Safety Recommendations