Objective: Postoperative venous thromboembolism (VTE) represents a serious threat to patients undergoing surgical procedures. Without thromboprophylaxis, deep vein thrombosis occurs in up to 60% of patients undergoing major orthopedic surgery and 15% of patients undergoing major abdominal surgery. Although, many studies have shown the efficacy of pharmacologic and mechanical means of VTE prophylaxis, practice variations in this area abound worldwide. The purpose of this study was to determine the attitudes and practice of VTE prophylaxis of academic surgical department heads in Israel. Methods: A questionnaire covering various aspects of VTE prophylaxis was mailed to all surgical department heads of university teaching hospitals in Israel. Three months later, the same questionnaire was sent to department heads who had not yet replied. Data retrieved from the returned questionnaires were analyzed. Results: A total of 250 departments in 23 hospitals affiliated to the four medical schools in Israel were identified; 130 department heads (52%) returned the questionnaires. The current study analyzes results obtained from the general surgical, orthopedic, urological, vascular and gynecological departments only. The total number of responses from these departments was 90 (69% response rate). Sixty-seven percent of the departments considered VTE to be a clinical problem. Ninety-four percent of departments have a policy for VTE prophylaxis. The most frequently used modalities for VTE prophylaxis (more than one option possible) were low-molecular-weight heparin (LMWH) (59%), unfractionated heparin (43%) and an intermittent pneumatic compression device (20%). VTE prophylaxis is begun 12 h preoperatively by 33% of departments, 2-4 h preoperatively by 20% of departments and with premedication by 8% of departments. VTE prophylaxis was continued during the postoperative period by all departments, with 52% stopping prophylaxis upon patient mobilization. Bleeding complications have been noted by 55% of departments, of these 9% were considered major. In general surgical, orthopedic and gynecologic departments, VTE prophylaxis was widely used for those procedures for which published guidelines exist, while considerable variation in VTE prophylaxis administration was demonstrated in a number of commonly encountered clinical situations for which there are no published recommendations. Conclusions: This study confirms that academic surgical departments in Israel conform to standard VTE prophylaxis guidelines. However, considerable variations in practice exist regarding the means of prophylaxis, onset of prophylaxis and its duration. These areas should be the focus of ongoing educational efforts including the development of uniform practice guidelines to improve the quality of care regarding VTE prophylaxis. Furthermore, attention should be given to methods for decreasing hemorrhage caused by LMWH and unfractionated heparin usage.
- Thromboembolism prophylaxis