Barriers and potential solutions toward optimal prophylaxis against deep vein thrombosis for hospitalized medical patients: a survey of healthcare professionals

J Hosp Med. 2012 Jan;7(1):28-34. doi: 10.1002/jhm.929. Epub 2011 Oct 28.


Objective: Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) prophylaxis remains underused in hospitalized medical patients despite strong recommendations that at-risk patients should receive prophylaxis. To understand this gap between knowledge and practice, we surveyed clinicians' perceptions about the importance of DVT prophylaxis, barriers to guideline implementation, and interventions to optimize prophylaxis.

Methods: Paper- and electronic mail-based surveys were sent to 1553 internists, nurses, pharmacists, and physiotherapists in Ontario, Canada. Responses were scored on 7-point Likert scales. An important barrier to optimal DVT prophylaxis was 1 with a mean score ≥5, and interventions with high potential success or feasibility were those with mean scores ≥5.

Results: DVT prophylaxis was perceived as important by all clinician groups but this did not appear to translate into knowledge about underutilization of current DVT prophylaxis strategies. Physicians and pharmacists recognized the underuse of DVT prophylaxis in medical patients, while nurses and physiotherapists tended to perceive prophylaxis strategies as appropriate. Lack of clear indications and contraindications for prophylaxis and concerns about bleeding risks were perceived as important barriers. Preprinted orders were considered the most potentially successful and feasible way to optimize prophylaxis.

Conclusions: A considerable barrier to optimal DVT prophylaxis utilization may be that those healthcare providers best able to conduct a daily assessment of patients' need for prophylaxis underrecognize the problem that prophylaxis is underutilized in this population. Interventions to bridge the gap between knowledge and practice should consider preprinted orders outlining DVT risk factors, and educating front-line care providers prior to implementation of a top-down approach.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anticoagulants / administration & dosage*
  • Anticoagulants / adverse effects
  • Data Collection* / methods
  • Health Personnel* / trends
  • Hemorrhage / chemically induced
  • Hemorrhage / diagnosis
  • Hemorrhage / epidemiology
  • Hospitalization* / trends
  • Humans
  • Ontario / epidemiology
  • Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis / methods
  • Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis / trends
  • Risk Factors
  • Venous Thrombosis / diagnosis
  • Venous Thrombosis / epidemiology
  • Venous Thrombosis / prevention & control*


  • Anticoagulants