Coagulation Day 2010: an Austrian survey on the routine of thromboprophylaxis in intensive care

Intensive Care Med. 2012 Jun;38(6):984-90. doi: 10.1007/s00134-012-2533-0. Epub 2012 Mar 24.


Purpose: Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is a common but often overlooked life-threatening complication of critical illness. The aim of this cross-sectional survey was to assess current practice of thromboprophylaxis as well as adherence to international guidelines.

Methods: After ethics committee approval, all intensive care units in Austrian hospitals treating adult patients were invited to participate in this web-based survey. Anonymized data on each patient treated at the participating intensive care units on Coagulation Day 2010 were collected using an electronic case report form. Risk assessment, choice and monitoring of anticoagulants, means of mechanical prophylaxis, and demographic data were recorded.

Results: Data from 325 critically ill patients were collected. Patients had a median of four risk factors for thrombosis and 6 % suffered from VTE. Of the 325 patients, 80 % received low molecular weight heparins subcutaneously, 10 % received unfractionated heparin intravenously, 1 % received alternative anticoagulants and 9 % received no pharmacological prophylaxis. Mechanical prophylaxis was used in 49 % with a predominant use of graduated compression stockings. In 39 % a combination of pharmacological and mechanical prophylaxis was applied and 5 % received no prophylaxis at all. Overall guideline adherence was 40 % on Coagulation Day 2010.

Conclusion: Current practice of thromboprophylaxis is predominantly based on the administration of low molecular weight heparins prescribed at rather arbitrary doses without a discernible relationship to drug monitoring, thromboembolic risk factors, vasopressor use or fluid balance. The use of mechanical prophylaxis, evaluation of risk scores and overall guideline adherence must be further encouraged by education, training and communication.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Austria
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Heparin, Low-Molecular-Weight / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data
  • Risk Factors
  • Stockings, Compression
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Thromboembolism / etiology
  • Thromboembolism / prevention & control*


  • Heparin, Low-Molecular-Weight