Interventions for implementation of thromboprophylaxis in hospitalized medical and surgical patients at risk for venous thromboembolism

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Background: Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in hospitalized patients. Numerous randomized controlled trials (RCTs) show that using thromboprophylaxis in hospitalized patients at risk for VTE is safe, effective and cost-effective. Despite this, prophylactic therapies for VTE are underutilized. System-wide interventions may be more effective to improve the use of VTE prophylaxis than relying on individual providers' prescribing behaviors. Objectives: To assess the effects of interventions designed to increase the implementation of thromboprophylaxis in hospitalized adult medical and surgical patients at risk for venous thromboembolism (VTE), assessed in terms of: 1. Increase in the proportion of patients who receive prophylaxis and appropriate prophylaxis 2. Reduction in risk of symptomatic VTE 3. Reduction in risk of asymptomatic VTE 4. Safety of the intervention. Search methods: The Cochrane Peripheral Vascular Diseases Group Trials Search Co-ordinator (TSC) searched the Group's Specialised Register (last searched July 2010) and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL, The Cochrane Library) 2010, Issue 3. We searched the PubMed, EMBASE, and SCOPUS databases (19 April 2010) as well as the reference lists of relevant review articles. Selection criteria: We included all studies whose interventions aimed to increase the use of prophylaxis and/or appropriate prophylaxis, decrease the proportion of symptomatic VTE, or decrease the proportion of asymptomatic VTE in hospitalized adult patients. We excluded studies that simply distributed published guidelines and studies whose interventions were not clearly described. Data collection and analysis: We collected the following outcomes: the proportion of patients who received prophylaxis (RP), the proportion of patients who received appropriate prophylaxis (RAP) (primary outcomes), and the occurrence of symptomatic VTE, asymptomatic VTE, and safety outcomes such as bleeding. We categorized interventions into education, alerts, and multifaceted interventions. We meta-analyzed RCTs and non-randomized studies (NRS) separately by random effects meta-analysis, and assessed heterogeneity using the I2statistic and subgroup analyses. Before analysis, we decided that results would be pooled if three or more studies were available for a particular intervention. We assessed publication bias using funnel plots and cumulative meta-analysis. Main results: We included a total of 55 studies. One of these reported data in patient-days and could not be quantitatively analyzed with the others. The 54 remaining studies (8 RCTs and 46 NRS) eligible for inclusion in our quantitative synthesis enrolled a total of 78,343 participants. Among RCTs, there were sufficient data to pool results for one primary outcome (received prophylaxis) for the 'alert' intervention. Alerts, such as computerized reminders or stickers on patients' charts, were associated with a risk difference (RD) of 13%, signifying an increase in the proportion of patients who received prophylaxis (95% confidence interval (CI) 1% to 25%). Among NRS, there were sufficient data to pool both primary outcomes for each intervention type. Pooled risk differences for received prophylaxis ranged from 8% to 17%, and for received appropriate prophylaxis ranged from 11% to 19%. Education and alerts were associated with statistically significant increases in prescription of appropriate prophylaxis, and multifaceted interventions were associated with statistically significant increases in prescription of any prophylaxis and appropriate prophylaxis. Multifaceted interventions had the largest pooled effects. I2 results showed substantial statistical heterogeneity which was in part explained by patient types and type of hospital. A subgroup analysis showed that multifaceted interventions which included an alert may be more effective at improving rates of prophylaxis and appropriate prophylaxis than those without an alert. Results for VTE and safety outcomes did not show substantial benefits or harms, although most studies were underpowered to assess these outcomes. Authors' conclusions: We reviewed a large number of studies which implemented a variety of system-wide strategies aimed to improve thromboprophylaxis rates in many settings and patient populations. We found statistically significant improvements in prescription of prophylaxis associated with alerts (RCTs) and multifaceted interventions (RCTs and NRS), and improvements in prescription of appropriate prophylaxis in NRS with the use of education, alerts and multifaceted interventions. Multifaceted interventions with an alert component may be the most effective. Demonstrated sources of heterogeneity included patient types and type of hospital. The results of our review will help physicians, nurses, pharmacists, hospital administrators and policy makers make practical decisions about local adoption of specific system-wide measures to improve prevention of VTE, an important public health issue. We did not find a significant benefit for VTE outcomes; however, earlier RCTs assessing the efficacy of thromboprophylaxis which were powered to address these outcomes have demonstrated the benefit of prophylactic therapies and a favourable balance of benefits versus the increased risk of bleeding events.




Kahn, S. R., Morrison, D. R., Cohen, J. M., Emed, J., Tagalakis, V., Roussin, A., & Geerts, W. (2013, July 16). Interventions for implementation of thromboprophylaxis in hospitalized medical and surgical patients at risk for venous thromboembolism. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. John Wiley and Sons Ltd.

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