Physician Alerts to Prevent DVT and Pulmonary Embolism in Hospitalized Patients
Background Information and Rationale for the Study:
Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is often avoidable in hospitalized patients because proven
prevention strategies have been established for patients at risk. North American and
European prophylaxis guidelines have been widely disseminated. However, despite intensive
educational efforts, VTE prevention remains underutilized.
At Brigham and Women's Hospital, we undertook a comprehensive program aimed at increasing
the frequency of VTE prophylaxis in high risk patients. This novel strategy required: 1)
devising a risk score that reliably and quickly identified patients at high risk of VTE, and
2) conducting a randomized controlled trial in which high risk patients without prophylaxis
were randomized into an intervention or control group. The intervention group's physicians
received a single alert explaining that the patient was at high risk, was not receiving
prophylaxis, and urged that prophylaxis be selected from a template of available
pharmacological and mechanical options. In contrast, the control group's physicians
received no alert.
Each of 8 common risk factors was weighted according to a point scale. At least 4 score
points were required to be deemed at "high risk" for VTE.
3 of the 8 risk factors were considered major and were assigned a score of 3 points each:
2. Prior VTE
One of the 8 risk factors, surgery, was considered intermediate and was assigned a score of
4 of the 8 risk factors were considered minor and were assigned a score of 1 point each:
1. Advanced age (> 70 years of age)
2. Obesity (Body Mass Index > 29)
3. Bed rest
4. Hormone replacement therapy or oral contraceptives
There were 2,506 patients in the randomized controlled trial of a computer alert: 1255 in
the intervention group and 1251 in the control group. The incidence of symptomatic VTE at
90 days was high: 8.2% in the control group. This high incidence validates the 8 risk
factor and point score methodology.
The intervention group had an overall 41% reduction in VTE, without any increase in major
bleeding. There was a 60% reduction in the incidence of symptomatic pulmonary embolism.
Identification of Patients at Risk for Venous Thromboembolism (VTE):
A VTE risk profile will be computed for each hospitalized patient using 8 common risk
factors. Each risk factor is weighted according to a point score. To be included in this
trial, the point score must equal or exceed 4 points.
Minor (Low) Risk Factors (1 POINT each):
- Advanced Age (>70 years of age)
- Obesity (BMI >29, or the presence of the word "obesity" in admission exam notes)
- Bed rest / Immobility (not related to surgery)
- Female Hormone Replacement Therapy or Oral Contraceptives
Intermediate Risk Factor (2 POINTS each):
· Major Surgery (> 60 minutes)
Major (High) Risk Factors (3 POINTS each):
- Cancer (active)
- Prior VTE
Increased VTE risk is defined as a cumulative VTE risk score 4, so that patients with at
least 1 major risk factor (cancer, prior VTE, or hypercoagulability) plus at least 1
additional intermediate risk factor (major surgery or bed rest) or minor risk factor
(advanced age, obesity, or hormone replacement therapy/oral contraceptives) become eligible.
In the absence of a major risk factor, patients with 1 intermediate risk factor plus at
least 2 minor risk factors become eligible.
Screening for Venous Thromboembolism Prophylaxis:
If the cumulative VTE risk score is ³4, orders are reviewed to detect ongoing mechanical or
pharmacological prophylactic measures. Mechanical prophylactic measures include graduated
compression stockings and intermittent pneumatic compression devices. Pharmacological
prophylactic measures include unfractionated heparin, enoxaparin, dalteparin, fondaparinux,
tinzaparin, and warfarin.
Randomization Envelopes containing the statement "ALERT" (Intervention) or "NO ALERT"
(Control) will be provided by Harvard Clinical Research Institute (HCRI), to randomize
patients who meet all inclusion criteria.
The intervention is informing the responsible physician that: 1) his or her patient is at
high risk for VTE, 2) is not receiving prophylaxis, and 3) VTE prophylaxis is recommended.
For control patients, VTE prevention guidelines are available, but no specific prompt is
provided to use them.
Ninety-day follow-up is performed in all study patients by medical record review and through
contact with the subject's Primary Care Physician.
Data Collection and Study Endpoints:
The primary endpoint is clinically diagnosed DVT or PE at 90 days. Safety endpoints include
total mortality and hemorrhagic events at 30 and 90 days, respectively. We define major
bleeding as intracranial, intraocular, retroperitoneal, pericardial, or bleeding that
requires surgical intervention or that resulted in a hemoglobin loss greater than 3 g/l.
DVT is diagnosed if there is loss of vein compressibility by ultrasound or a filling defect
by CT scan or by conventional contrast venography. PE is diagnosed by a positive contrast
chest CT scan, a high-probability ventilation perfusion scan, or conventional pulmonary
Observational Model: Case Control, Time Perspective: Prospective
Clinically diagnosed DVT and/or PE
Samuel Z. Goldhaber, MD
Brigham and Women's Hospital
United States: Institutional Review Board
|LDS Hospital||Salt Lake City, Utah 84143|
|North Shore University Hospital||Manhasset, New York 11030|
|University of Missouri||Columbia, Missouri 65212|
|University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center||Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73104|
|William W. Backus Hospital||Norwich, Connecticut 06360|
|Spartanburg Regional Medical Center||Spartanburg, South Carolina 29303|
|Washington Hospital Center||Washington, District of Columbia 20010|
|Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas||Dallas, Texas 75231|
|St. Joseph Mercy Hospital||Pontiac, Michigan 48341-2985|
|University of Colorado Health Sciences Center||Denver, Colorado 80262|
|Lahey Clinic||Burlington, Massachusetts 01805|
|Florida Hospital||Orlando, Florida 32803|
|Norwalk Hospital||Norwalk, Connecticut 06856|
|Washington County Hospital||Hagerstown, Maryland 21740|
|University of California - Irvine||Orange, California 92868|
|Franklin Square Hospital||Baltimore, Maryland 21237|
|University of California - Davis||Davis, California 95616|
|AZ Pulmonary Specialists, Ltd||Scottsdale, Arizona 85258|
|Long Beach VA Hospital||Long Beach, California 90822|
|Emory-Crawford Long Hospital||Atlanta, Georgia 30308|
|North Shore Medical Center||Salem, Massachusetts 01970|
|Henry Ford Hospital K15||Detroit, Michigan 48202|
|Thomas Jefferson Hospital||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19107|
|Washington Hospital||Washington, Pennsylvania 15301|
|University of Utah Medical Center||Salt Lake City, Utah 84132|
|United Hospital System||Kenosha, Wisconsin 53143|