Background: Evidence-based guidelines recommend that acutely ill hospitalized medical patients who are at risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE) should receive prophylaxis. Our aim was to characterize the clinical practices for VTE prophylaxis in acutely ill hospitalized medical patients enrolled in the International Medical Prevention Registry on Venous Thromboembolism (IMPROVE).
Methods: IMPROVE is an ongoing, multinational, observational study. Participating hospitals enroll the first 10 consecutive eligible acutely ill medical patients each month. Patient management is determined by the treating physicians. An analysis of data on VTE prophylaxis practices is presented.
Results: From July 2002 to September 30, 2006, 15,156 patients were enrolled from 52 hospitals in 12 countries, of whom 50% received in-hospital pharmacologic and/or mechanical VTE prophylaxis. In the United States and other participating countries, 52% and 43% of patients, respectively, should have received prophylaxis according to guideline recommendations from the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP). Only approximately 60% of patients who either met the ACCP criteria for requiring prophylaxis or were eligible for enrollment in randomized clinical trials that have shown the benefits of pharmacologic prophylaxis actually received prophylaxis. Practices varied considerably. Intermittent pneumatic compression was the most common form of medical prophylaxis utilized in the United States, although it was used very rarely in other countries (22% vs 0.2%, respectively). Unfractionated heparin was the most frequent pharmacologic approach used in the United States (21% of patients), with low-molecular-weight heparin used most frequently in other participating countries (40%). There was also variable use of elastic stockings in the United States and other participating countries (3% vs 7%, respectively).
Conclusions: Our data suggest that physicians' practices for providing VTE prophylaxis to acutely ill hospitalized medical patients are suboptimal and highlight the need for improved implementation of existing evidence-based guidelines in hospitals.