Sequential compression devices (SCD) have become the most common form of prophylaxis against the formation of deep venous thrombosis (DVT) among surgical patients. However, compliance with SCD has traditionally been poor. The aim of this study was to assess the affect of patient and nurse education by surgeons on SCD compliance. This was a prospective study involving a single teaching hospital. Compliance was checked twice daily. The main outcomes were compliance rates with SCD use before and after nurse and patient education. Nurses were not aware of the study. Surgical floors had a history of resident and attending interactions regarding SCD, whereas nonsurgical floors did not. A handout that emphasized SCD importance was also given to patients on surgical units. Before education, surgical units had a compliance rate of 61.5 per cent, whereas nonsurgical units had a 48 per cent compliance rate. This difference was significant (P = 0.014). After nursing and patient education on the busiest surgical floor, compliance rates on the surgical ward increased to 65 per cent, a difference that was not of statistical significance (P = 0.515). A nursing unit's daily experience is the most important factor in their compliance rates with SCD use. Focused nursing lectures and patient education may have incremental value.