Improving venous thromboembolism prevention processes and outcomes at a community hospital

Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2012 Feb;38(2):61-6. doi: 10.1016/s1553-7250(12)38008-2.


Background: Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is a cause of significant morbidity and mortality in hospitalized patients in the United States. Quality improvement (QI) strategies to increase the rates of prophylaxis in patients at-risk for VTE have been shown to be successful. The development of a formal, active strategy addressing the prevention of VTE, as a written, institutionwide VTE prophylaxis policy, presents a challenge for hospitals

Methods: In 2007 a multidisciplinary VTE committee was initiated to develop and implement a hospitalwide QI program to standardize VTE risk assessment and prophylaxis prescribing practices at Saint Francis Hospital (Tulsa, Oklahoma). The QI program included clinician education, VTE order set and electronic trigger implementation, and changes in mechanical prophylaxis usage.

Results: The VTE prophylaxis order set was successfully piloted and implemented hospitalwide within three months of the project's initiation. Standardization of VTE prophylaxis practices across surgical and medical specialties was the key aim of this QI program. As a result, patient-related outcomes were also improved. The number of hospital-acquired VTE events decreased from 123 (0.39%) in 2008 to 99 (0.32%) in 2009 and 87 (0.27%) in 2010, and a reduction in the VTE rate between 2008 and 2010 of 31.6%. There was a significant decrease between 2008 and 2010 in the number of hospital-acquired VTE events (p = .035).

Conclusions: Keys to the success of this QI program included leveraging multidisciplinary VTE committee members, physician champions, multiple approaches to communication and education, and providing evidence to support the changes. Sharing the hospital's QI process may provide a model for other hospitals challenged with developing and sustaining positive outcomes in patients at risk for VTE.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anticoagulants / administration & dosage*
  • Hospitals, Community / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'
  • Professional Staff Committees / organization & administration
  • Quality Improvement / organization & administration*
  • Reminder Systems
  • Risk Assessment
  • Venous Thromboembolism / prevention & control*


  • Anticoagulants