Lack of extended venous thromboembolism prophylaxis in high-risk patients undergoing major orthopaedic or major cancer surgery. Electronic Assessment of VTE Prophylaxis in High-Risk Surgical Patients at Discharge from Swiss Hospitals (ESSENTIAL)

Thromb Haemost. 2009 Jul;102(1):56-61. doi: 10.1160/TH09-02-0097.


Extended pharmacological venous thromboembolism (VTE) prophylaxis beyond discharge is recommended for patients undergoing high-risk surgery. We prospectively investigated prophylaxis in 1,046 consecutive patients undergoing major orthopaedic (70%) or major cancer surgery (30%) in 14 Swiss hospitals. Appropriate in-hospital prophylaxis was used in 1,003 (96%) patients. At discharge, 638 (61%) patients received prescription for extended pharmacological prophylaxis: 564 (77%) after orthopaedic surgery, and 74 (23%) after cancer surgery (p < 0.001). Patients with knee replacement (94%), hip replacement (81%), major trauma (80%), and curative arthroscopy (73%) had the highest prescription rates for extended VTE prophylaxis; the lowest rates were found in patients undergoing major surgery for thoracic (7%), gastrointestinal (19%), and hepatobiliary (33%) cancer. The median duration of prescribed extended prophylaxis was longer in patients with orthopaedic surgery (32 days, interquartile range 14-40 days) than in patients with cancer surgery (23 days, interquartile range 11-30 days; p<0.001). Among the 278 patients with an extended prophylaxis order after hip replacement, knee replacement, or hip fracture surgery, 120 (43%) received a prescription for at least 35 days, and among the 74 patients with an extended prophylaxis order after major cancer surgery, 20 (27%) received a prescription for at least 28 days. In conclusion, approximately one quarter of the patients with major orthopaedic surgery and more than three quarters of the patients with major cancer surgery did not receive prescription for extended VTE prophylaxis. Future effort should focus on the improvement of extended VTE prophylaxis, particularly in patients undergoing major cancer surgery.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anticoagulants / therapeutic use
  • Continuity of Patient Care / standards
  • Continuity of Patient Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Databases, Factual
  • Female
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Neoplasms / surgery
  • Orthopedics / statistics & numerical data
  • Patient Discharge*
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology*
  • Postoperative Complications / prevention & control*
  • Quality of Health Care
  • Risk Factors
  • Switzerland / epidemiology
  • Venous Thromboembolism / epidemiology*
  • Venous Thromboembolism / prevention & control*
  • Young Adult


  • Anticoagulants