, Volume 27, Issue 2, pp 81-93
Date: 13 Apr 2010

Need to improve thromboprophylaxis across the continuum of care for surgical patients

Abstract

Introduction

Prophylaxis for venous thromboembolism (VTE) is underused following major surgery and frequently stopped at hospital discharge despite short stays and high VTE risk for several weeks postsurgery. We evaluated inpatient and postdischarge prophylaxis in patients who underwent major abdominal or orthopedic surgery.

Methods

Patient records were assessed for anticoagulant use by cross-matching data from the Premier’s Perspective™ discharge database with the i3/Ingenix LabRx outpatient and inpatient database from January 2005 to December 2007. Abdominal or orthopedic surgery patients at risk of VTE according to the 2004 American College of Chest Physicians guidelines and with no contraindications to anticoagulation were included.

Results

A total of 14,009 eligible surgical discharges were analyzed. Only 27.9% of the 10,698 abdominal surgery patients received anticoagulation in hospital. Most inpatients received unfractionated heparin (12.3% of the total abdominal surgery population) or enoxaparin (11.8%). Of the 3311 orthopedic surgery patients, 91.1% received in-hospital anticoagulation. Similar proportions of patients received enoxaparin (32.1%), warfarin (31.1%), or other agents (28.0%). Only 1.2% of abdominal surgery patients had an anticoagulant prescription filled 30 days postdischarge. Although orthopedic surgery outpatients had higher anticoagulation rates, only 54.4% had filled a prescription 30 days postdischarge with 31.1% receiving warfarin, 18.5% receiving enoxaparin, and 4.8% receiving other anticoagulants. The higher prophylaxis rate in orthopedic patients may reflect the high VTE risk in orthopedic surgery patients and increased awareness among orthopedic surgeons.

Conclusion

This real-world study highlights the underuse of thromboprophylaxis in hospitalized surgical patients, especially following abdominal surgery. Furthermore, a considerable proportion of these patients do not receive postdischarge anticoagulation despite guideline recommendations. Further efforts are needed to improve anticoagulant use, particularly in the outpatient setting.