Venous thromboembolism

We examine rates of venous thromboembolism (VTE) risk assessment and deaths from VTE related events after discharge from hospital.


Last updated: 30/11/2018

Effective clinical care Safety
Hospital care

Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is a major cause of death in hospital patients, and there are considerable costs associated with non-fatal symptomatic VTE and related comorbidities. The first step in preventing death and disability is to identify those who are at risk so that preventative treatments can be used. The VTE risk assessment was formally a national Commissioning for Quality and Innovation (CQUIN) indicator and is a National Quality Requirement in the NHS Standard Contract for 2016/17. It sets a threshold rate that acute providers must undertake risk assessments for at least 95% of inpatients each month.

We also examine how deaths from VTE related events within 90 days post discharge from hospital have changed over time, and how the UK's deep vein thrombosis (DVT) rate after hip or knee replacement surgery compares internationally.

How has the rate of venous thromboembolism (VTE) risk assessment changed? 15/12/2017

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Since 2010/11 Q2, there has been an increase in the proportion of adult inpatients admitted to NHS-funded acute care (NHS trusts, NHS foundation trusts and independent sector providers) who are risk assessed for venous thromboembolism (VTE). The 95% target was introduced in 2013/14 as part of the national VTE CQUIN goal, and the 95% threshold has been exceeded since 2013/14 Q1. In 2018/19 Q1, the proportion of adult inpatients who were risk assessed for VTE on admission to hospital was 95.6% for acute providers and 96% for independent sector providers.

How does the UK's post-operative deep vein thrombosis rate compare internationally over time? 30/07/2018

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In the UK, the post-operative deep vein thrombosis (DVT) rate after hip or knee replacement surgery is relatively low compared to other countries. Between 2011 and 2015, the post-operative DVT rate in the UK decreased from 240 per 100,000 hospital discharges to 202 per 100,000 hospital discharges. In France, the rate appeared to be much higher, reaching 1,328 per 100,000 hospital discharges in 2015.

However, the OECD's Health at a Glance 2017 suggests that some of the observed variations in DVT rates may be due to differences in diagnostic practices across countries. For example, routine ultrasound screening can significantly increase the detection of DVT. Furthermore, caution is needed in interpreting the extent to which the data accurately reflects international differences in patient safety rather than differences in the way that countries report, code and calculate rates of adverse events.

How have deaths from venous thromboembolism (VTE) related events after discharge from hospital changed over time? 30/11/2018

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This indicator measures VTE related deaths within 90 days post discharge from hospital - a key measure of patient safety. Between 2007 and 2016, the rate of patients who were admitted to hospital with any cause and died within 90 days of their last discharge from a VTE related event decreased from 72.1 to 62.3 deaths per 100,000 adult  hospital admissions. The absolute number of VTE related deaths for people whose last hospital episode ended within 90 days of death actually increased by 8% over the time period, from 8,025 to 8,684. However, since the total number of adult hospital admissions increased by 25%, the rate of VTE related deaths per 100,000 hospital admissions decreased over time.

About this data

NHS Improvement data:
The data presented relates to the proportion of adult hospital admissions admitted during the analysis period who are risk assessed for VTE on admission to hospital according to the Department of Health/NICE National VTE Risk Assessment Tool.
All providers of NHS-funded acute hospital care (including foundation and non-foundation trusts and independent sector providers) are required to complete the data collection, which was mandated in June 2010.

NHS Digital data:
This indicator measures the number of adults (19 years or over) who were admitted to hospital for any reason (not just episodes where VTE had been diagnosed) and subsequently died up to 90 days post discharge according to the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (MCCD) and where VTE was one of the conditions leading to, or directly causing death. This is measured per 100,000 adult hospital admissions.

OECD data:
Definitions and comparability for the international indicator are taken directly from the OECD report Health at a Glance 2017: OECD indicators. Detailed information about the definitions and the source and methods for each country can be found here.
The surgical admission-based method uses unlinked data to calculate the number of discharges with ICD codes for deep vein thrombosis in any secondary diagnosis field, divided by the total number of discharges of patients aged 15 and older.
A fundamental challenge in international comparison of patient safety indicators centres on differences in the underlying data. Variations in how countries record diagnoses and procedures and define hospital admissions can affect calculation of rates. In some cases, higher adverse event rates may signal more developed patient safety monitoring systems and a stronger patient safety culture rather than worse care. There is a need for greater consistency in reporting of patient safety across countries and significant scope exists for improved data capture within national patient safety programmes.