Outpatient management of DVT using low molecular weight heparin and a hospital outreach service

Clin Lab Haematol. 2002 Jun;24(3):165-70. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2257.2002.00440.x.


In recent years there have been several studies comparing the efficacy and safety of low molecular weight (LMW) and unfractionated heparin for the treatment of deep venous thrombosis (DVT), showing them in the clinical trial setting to be equal in these regards. LMWH has the advantage of once daily subcutaneous injection and daily monitoring of levels is not usually required. This has led many centres to develop outpatient treatment strategies for these patients but evidence for the safety of this approach is scarce. In 1997 we developed a hospital outreach service for the treatment of patients with DVT and, in a retrospective study, have compared the outcome in 172 patients treated at home with 172 age, sex and thrombotic risk factor matched inpatients treated at our institution with unfractionated heparin. Five patients in the home treatment group suffered a haemorrhagic event, compared with six patients in the hospital group. One patient in the home treatment group had a recurrent DVT within the first 3 months of treatment; in the hospital-treated group, six patients had recurrent DVTs and nine developed pulmonary emboli. At 3 months, there were three deaths in the home treatment group, compared with five deaths in the hospital group. There was no difference in re-admission rate at 3 months: 23 in the home treatment group, 24 in the hospital-treated group. Average length of hospital stay for the home-treatment group was 2.1 days and 12 days for the hospital group. Warfarin control was found to be significantly better in those patients treated at home, and only 18% of patients treated in hospital received heparin according to hospital guidelines. In conclusion, outpatient management of patients with DVT using LMWH is as safe as hospitalization and continuous infusion of unfractionated heparin. The complication rate was lower in the home treatment group and, in particular, the incidence of recurrent thrombosis was significantly less in the home treatment group. In addition, warfarin control was better when managed by specialist nurses. Patients expressed a preference for home treatment.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Ambulatory Care* / methods*
  • Anticoagulants / therapeutic use*
  • Anticoagulants / toxicity
  • Cause of Death
  • Community-Institutional Relations / standards*
  • England
  • Female
  • Hemorrhage / chemically induced
  • Heparin / therapeutic use
  • Heparin / toxicity
  • Heparin, Low-Molecular-Weight / therapeutic use*
  • Heparin, Low-Molecular-Weight / toxicity
  • Hospitals, Public / organization & administration
  • Hospitals, Public / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Readmission
  • Recurrence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Venous Thrombosis / complications
  • Venous Thrombosis / drug therapy*
  • Venous Thrombosis / mortality
  • Warfarin / therapeutic use
  • Warfarin / toxicity


  • Anticoagulants
  • Heparin, Low-Molecular-Weight
  • Warfarin
  • Heparin