Nurses Should Play Key Role in DVT Prevention

Pre-surgery assessment, using stockings and other prophylaxis can help reduce risk of thromboses
By Eric Metcalf
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Perioperative nurses should be aware of the threat of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and play a role in reducing patients' risk before, during and after surgery, according to an article in the August AORN Journal.

Chris A. Dipaola, R.N., of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H., writes that DVT is reported to be the most common preventable cause of death in hospitals. In one large cohort of surgical patients, the most important risk factors for postoperative DVT were age older than 50, and history of varicose veins, myocardial infarction, cancer, atrial fibrillation, ischemic stroke and diabetes.

Steps perioperative nurses can take to prevent DVT include assessing patients' risk factors for venous stasis and DVT before surgery, and initiating necessary prophylactic measures, such as sequential compression devices or graduated compression stockings. After the procedure, nurses should monitor patients for symptoms of DVT such as redness, swelling and induration.

"Exploring strategies to incorporate risk assessments and provide related interventions as integral to the standard of care rather than wait for a physician's order may prevent situations in which the order is not written or given before surgery," the author writes. "Deep vein thrombosis presents significant risks for surgical morbidity and mortality. Staying alert to each patient's risk factors and intervening in a timely and appropriate way can save lives and keep patients safe."

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