Doctors miss blood clots costing millions to the NHS: Report

According to to figures from the NHS Litigation Authority, the NHS has paid out over £112m since 2005 in compensation because doctors have failed to spot or prevent fatal blood clots.

It has been known that around 25,000 people admitted to hospitals in England die every year from venous thromboembolism (VTE) and recent guidelines have made it clear that every hospital patient should be screened for blood clot risk. However, only 30 out of 159 hospital trusts are meeting the target of screening 90 per cent of patients. Last year, the health watchdog said more than 10,000 lives could be saved annually if people going into hospital were screened for the clots.

Three years ago, Sir Liam Donaldson, then the chief medical officer, said that all patients admitted to hospital should be screened.

The NHS medical director Sir Bruce Keogh said, “We are committed to doing something about this issue, to reduce the suffering of thousands of people and to save many lives. This is not complicated. I expect organizations to assess every patient for their individual risk of getting a blood clot, and then to provide the appropriate prevention. Not only would this more than pay for itself; it is clearly the right thing to do.”

In 2005, £21million was paid out over blood clots, but this rose to more than £26 million in 2010. The money was paid to people who suffered an avoidable blood clot or who had a clot missed by doctors. New research from Lifeblood, the thrombosis charity, suggests claims for the period 2005 to 2015 could top £250million in total. Professor Beverley Hunt, medical director of the Lifeblood charity added that the human cost from this preventable condition was “devastating”. She said, “But it's only now that the crippling financial cost of poor treatment has been laid bare. The NHS has some excellent new thrombosis prevention guidelines in place but if hospitals don't take urgent action to meet these mandatory prevention goals, then patients will increasingly turn to the courts for compensation. Judging by the amounts paid out in negligence claims to date, the cost to the NHS could top £250 million over a decade — an unacceptable and unnecessary expense to an NHS already under pressure to make cost savings.”

Lifeblood analyzed hospital inpatient data to work out how many have not been screened for blood clots, also known as venous thromboembolism (VTE). Data suggested that, in the three months from October to December 2010, only 68.4 per cent of patients, on average, were screened for VTE, despite the goal being 90 per cent.

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.

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