Helping Consumers, Clinicians Prevent Dangerous Blood Clots
Two new guides to help consumers and clinicians prevent and treat deep vein thrombosis were released today by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).
Not all blood clots are harmful but deep vein thrombosis, a blood clot that forms in the deep veins of the body, most commonly in the lower leg or thigh, is a potentially deadly medical problem that affects at least 350,000 and possibly as many as 600,000 Americans each year, according to The Surgeon General's Call to Action to Prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis and Pulmonary Embolism that was also released today. AHRQ's resources are independent of the Call to Action.
AHRQ's consumer booklet, Your Guide to Preventing and Treating Blood Clots, is a 12-page easy-to-read resource that helps both patients and their families identify the causes and symptoms of dangerous blood clots, learn tips on how to prevent them and know what to expect during treatment.
The clinician guide, Preventing Hospital-Acquired Venous Thromboembolism: A Guide for Effective Quality Improvement, is a comprehensive tool to help hospitals and clinicians implement processes to prevent dangerous blood clots. The 60-page guide details how to start, implement, evaluate and sustain a quality improvement strategy. It includes case studies, as well as examples of forms that clinicians in the field can use.
"Blood clots can be a serious condition affecting hundreds of thousands of Americans each year," said AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D. "We know how to prevent many of these dangerous blood clots, and these guides will help patients and clinicians put that knowledge to work to improve care."
Dangerous blood clots can form when a person is stationary for a long period of time, such as when recovering from surgery, being hospitalized or traveling long distances. A blood clot that travels to the lung is called a pulmonary embolism.
"These timely, easy-to-read guides provide valuable information on preventing and treating dangerous blood clots," said Acting Surgeon General Steven K. Galson, M.D., M.P.H. "They are also valuable tools for health care providers to use with their patients who are at risk for dangerous blood clots."
The AHRQ guides were developed from toolkits originally created by experts funded through AHRQ's Partnerships in Implementing Patient Safety grant program. The consumer guide, Your Guide to Preventing and Treating Blood Clots, is based on work by Brenda Zierler, Ph.D., R.N. at the University of Washington, Seattle. It is available in both English and Spanish. The clinician guide, Preventing Hospital-Acquired Venous Thromboembolism: A Guide for Effective Quality Improvement, reflects the work of Gregory Maynard, M.D., at the University of California, San Diego, with contributions from Jason Stein, M.D., at Emory University in Atlanta.
Treatment for blood clots often includes blood thinning medications such as Coumadin (generic name: warfarin). AHRQ recently published Your Guide to Coumadin/Warfarin Therapy to help these patients better understand their treatment. This guide also originated from an AHRQ-funded patient safety project and is based on the work of James Levett, M.D. and Carla Huber, A.R.N.P., M.S., at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.