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Improving Venous Thromboembolism Prevention Processes and Outcomes at a Community Hospital

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Background: Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is a cause of significant morbidity and mortality in hospitalized patients in the United States. Quality improvement (QI) strategies to increase the rates of prophylaxis in patients at-risk for VTE have been shown to be successful. The development of a formal, active strategy addressing the prevention of VTE, as a written, institutionwide VTE prophylaxis policy, presents a challenge for hospitals

Methods: In 2007 a multidisciplinary VTE committee was initiated to develop and implement a hospitalwide QI program to standardize VTE risk assessment and prophylaxis prescribing practices at Saint Francis Hospital (Tulsa, Oklahoma). The QI program included clinician education, VTE order set and electronic trigger implementation, and changes in mechanical prophylaxis usage.

Results: The VTE prophylaxis order set was successfully piloted and implemented hospitalwide within three months of the project's initiation. Standardization of VTE prophylaxis practices across surgical and medical specialties was the key aim of this QI program. As a result, patient-related outcomes were also improved. The number of hospital-acquired VTE events decreased from 123 (0.39%) in 2008 to 99 (0.32%) in 2009 and 87 (0.27%) in 2010, and a reduction in the VTE rate between 2008 and 2010 of 31.6%. There was a significant decrease between 2008 and 2010 in the number of hospital-acquired VTE events (p = .035).

Conclusions: Keys to the success of this QI program included leveraging multidisciplinary VTE committee members, physician champions, multiple approaches to communication and education, and providing evidence to support the changes. Sharing the hospital's QI process may provide a model for other hospitals challenged with developing and sustaining positive outcomes in patients at risk for VTE.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2012

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  • Published monthly, The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety is a peer-reviewed publication dedicated to providing health professionals with the information they need to promote the quality and safety of health care. The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety invites original manuscripts on the development, adaptation, and/or implementation of innovative thinking, strategies, and practices in improving quality and safety in health care. Case studies, program or project reports, reports of new methodologies or new applications of methodologies, research studies on the effectiveness of improvement interventions, and commentaries on issues and practices are all considered.

    David W. Baker, MD, MPH, FACP, executive vice president for the Division of Healthcare Quality Evaluation at The Joint Commission, is the inaugural editor-in-chief of The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety.

    Also known as Joint Commission Journal on Quality Improvement and Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Safety
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