Canadian Patient Safety Institute

Canadian Patient Safety Institute

November 03, 2009 11:11 ET

Sunnybrook Recognized as National Leader on Blood Clot Prevention

'Blood clots - most preventable form of hospital associated death'

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 3, 2009) - Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre is being recognized today by the Canadian Patient Safety Institute as a national leader in the prevention of blood clots. Blood clots are the most preventable form of hospital associated deaths, and blood clots causing pulmonary embolism account for up to 30,000 deaths every year in Canada.

"Blood clots can form inside a vein deep in the leg, causing leg pain and swelling. A blood clot in a leg vein can grow, break off, and travel to the lungs. This may result in shortness of breath or chest pain, and in some cases, can cause a patient's death," says Dr. William Geerts, a blood clotting specialist at Sunnybrook and the leader of a national effort to prevent blood clots along with the Canadian Patient Safety Institute. "Venous thromboembolism (or VTE) is the medical term for blood clots. The rate of hospital-acquired blood clots, if proper thromboprophylaxis is not used, is 10 to 40 per cent after general surgery and 40 to 60 per cent after major orthopedic surgery."

"We know that adverse events affect thousands of patients every year in Canada. That is why it is important to acknowledge hospitals like Sunnybrook and the role they are playing in reducing preventable adverse events like blood clots from happening," said Dr. Chris Hayes, Medical Officer, Canadian Patient Safety Institute.

Caitlin Hilliard, recently saw Dr. Geerts as a patient. She was diagnosed with a blood clot after developing sharp pain in her leg. "I have learned the hard way about blood clots and the impact they can have," says Hilliard. "It really has affected my life in a significant way. Blood clots are not an insignificant thing."

"We hope to encourage healthcare providers to enhance their VTE prevention strategies," adds Dr. Geerts. "We have done several regional and national audits of whether hospitals effectively prevent blood clots. More than a quarter of Canadian hospitals do not routinely provide adequate thromboprophylaxis to orthopedic surgery patients and more than half do not routinely provide thromboprophylaxis to major general surgery patients. Although the use of thromboprophylaxis is improving, and an increasing number of hospitals are developing their own blood clot prevention strategies, there is still a lot moré work to do in this area."

"As we celebrate Canadian Patient Safety Week," says Dr. Hayes, "the Canadian Patient Safety Institute would like to congratulate Sunnybrook on this initiative and for increasing awareness on such a preventable hospital associated death."

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