Audit of surgeon awareness of readmissions with venous thrombo-embolism

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Abstract Aim:

An audit was undertaken to assess whether surgeons were informed of the readmission of their patients with postoperative deep venous thrombosis (DVT), or pulmonary embolus (PE). Methods:

A retrospective medical record review was conducted to detect patients who had an unplanned readmission in which DVT or PE formed part of the diagnosis and the first admission included a surgical procedure. The readmission was to John Hunter Hospital, Newcastle, Australia, a major tertiary referral teaching hospital, and the first admission was to any acute care hospital. The main outcome measures were: (i) hospital and specialty of the admitting doctor, (ii) the type of surgery performed, (iii) the length of time between admissions and (iv) the patient's previous medical history. The medical record was reviewed for documented evidence that the surgeon who performed the procedure was aware of the readmission. Results:

Of the 215 patient reviewed, 34 were classified as unplanned readmissions following a surgical pro¬≠cedure. Twenty-four patients (70.6%) were readmitted under a different specialty, three (8.8%) patients were readmitted under the same specialty but under a different surgeon, and seven (20.6%) patients were readmitted under the same surgeon. Of the 27 patients admitted under a different consultant, only 12 (44.4%) had documented evidence that the previous surgeon was aware of the readmission. Conclusion: 

The rate of DVT/PE complications following surgery is underestimated. This may lead to a reduced emphasis in DVT/PE prophylaxis in the mistaken belief that DVT/PE frequency is rarer than it is. Improved communication between teams is necessary to improve care. (Intern Med J 2003; 33: 578−580)

Keywords: audit; deep venous ­thrombosis; pulmonary embolus; readmissions

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Clinical Governance Unit, Hunter Area Health Service and

Publication date: December 1, 2003

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