Blood clots developed on wards 'kill hundreds,' say AMs

Hundreds of people are dying unnecessarily in Welsh hospitals due to blood clots, a report by AMs claims.

The assembly's health committee says 70% of deaths from clots acquired in hospitals could be prevented had proper preventative measures been in place.

In 2010, 900 people in Wales died due to blood clots they had developed in hospital, more than the deaths due to breast cancer, MRSA and HIV combined.

The Welsh government said it would consider the recommendations carefully.


Assembly members on the cross-party health committee said they are worried that some doctors are "routinely ignoring" guidelines requiring them to assess every patient for the risk of clots and prescribe blood thinning medicines if needed.

Committee chair Mark Drakeford AM said: "We are also concerned that assessment methods are not just inconsistent across local health boards in Wales but can be inconsistent across different departments within the same hospital."

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionDr Simon Noble of thrombosis charity Lifeblood welcomes the report

The reports calls for all hospitals to make sure doctors stick to the guidelines and that tackling the problem should should be a top priority.

The findings were welcomed by Dr Simon Noble, medical director for Wales for Lifeblood: The Thrombosis Charity.

He said the figure of 900 preventable deaths was "likely to be an underestimate" because "we are often very poor at picking up blood clots as a cause of death".

Dr Noble added: "The benefits of preventing a hospital-acquired thrombosis is supported by a wealth of evidence.

"Trials involving thousands of patients have been conducted and have shown that this is not only highly effective but will save the health service money.

"It makes sense in health terms and in economic terms. It saves lives and it saves money."

Dr Noble declined to put a figure on the number of preventable hospital-acquired thrombosis deaths in Wales but said a 2005 Commons report which estimated there were 25,000 across the UK annually suggested Wales' element of that statistic would be around 1,700.

'Devastating condition'

He added: "Patients go in to hospital to be cured. They don't go in to hospital and expect to pick up a life-threatening condition."

A Welsh government spokeswoman said: "We recognise Venous Thromboembolism Prevention (VTE) is a devastating condition and are committed to reducing its incidence across Wales.

"The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidance should be used to ensure patients are receiving the most appropriate care.

"The guidance does not, however, override the individual responsibility of healthcare professionals to make decisions appropriate to the circumstances of the individual patient."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites