compression stockings, deep vein thrombosis prophylaxis, evidence-based policy, sequential compression devices



  1. Brady, Debra MSN, RN, CNS
  2. Raingruber, Bonnie PhD, RN
  3. Peterson, Janet BSN, RN
  4. Varnau, Winifred MSN, RN
  5. Denman, James BSN, RN
  6. Resuello, Raquel ADN, RN
  7. De Contreaus, Roumelia BSN, RN
  8. Mahnke, Jaime BSN, RN


Background: Nurses on an Acute Care Evidence Based Practice Committee, creating a policy to increase patient compliance with thromboembolic deterrent stockings (TEDS) and sequential compression devices (SCDs) for deep vein thrombosis prophylaxis, found limited literature on patient preference and response to this treatment.


Study Aim: The study purpose was to determine whether knee-length or thigh-length TEDS and/or SCDs were more comfortable, correctly applied, and worn by patients, and to assess patient reasons for noncompliance.


Method: A patient survey and observational data tool was designed. Six surveyors collected data (interrater reliability = 93%) from 137 randomly selected patients with orders for TEDS and/or SCDs admitted to acute care medical or surgical nursing units.


Results: Most patients wore thigh-length SCDs and TEDS. However, only 29.2% (n = 40) had SCDs on them at the time of survey, and 62.8% (n = 86) were compliant with TEDS. The most common reasons given for noncompliance with SCDs were that the devices were not reapplied after bathing or ambulating, or were removed because they were hot or itchy. Complaints of discomfort were highest among patients wearing thigh-length SCDs and TEDS. Problems with fit were 50% higher in those who wore thigh-length TEDS, and involved stockings that created restricting bands. Most patients understood the purpose of treatment, and older patients were more compliant than younger patients.


Implications for Practice: Knee-length TEDS and SCDs are more comfortable for patients, encourage higher levels of compliance with treatment, do not pose a risk for venous stasis to patients by creating restricting bands, and are less expensive. Patients need ongoing education to resume wearing TEDS and SCDs after activities of daily living, and knee-length stockings and devices would be easier to reapply. The policy in our institution was changed for the use of knee-length compression stockings and SCDs.