Venous Thromboembolism (VTE) prevention

Sometimes blood can pool and thicken inside normal, healthy veins and block the flow of blood through the body. This is known as a blood clot, or medically as a Venous Thromboembolism (VTE). It includes blood clots that form in the deep veins, known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT), and clots that become lodged in the lungs, known as a pulmonary embolism (PE).

VTE is one of the leading causes of preventable death in Australia. It causes more deaths than breast cancer, bowel cancer or road traffic accidents. Approximately 14,000 Australians develop a VTE each year. Around 5,000 of these cases result in death1. Hospitalisation is strongly associated with the development of VTEs - the majority of which are preventable. Effective prevention is achieved through assessment of risk factors and the provision of appropriate prophylaxis.

The VTE Prevention Program was launched in 2014 to reduce the incidence of hospital-associated VTE in NSW public hospitals. The aim is to ensure that all patients are assessed for VTE risk and given the appropriate prophylaxis. The program provides local health districts, individual facilities and clinicians with the tools and resources required to address this patient safety issue, as well as the support and advice required to implement the elements into workflow. The VTE Prevention program is a component of CEC's Medication Safety and Quality program.

VTE Prevention Program
Venous thromboembolism

YouTube video (high resolution)

Length 2:49

Added Oct 2014

VTE Prevention Framework

A VTE Prevention framework has been developed and covers 6 key areas:

  1. Patients at risk of VTE are identified
  2. VTE Risk is assessed and documented
  3. Appropriate prophylaxis is prescribed
  4. The patient is engaged in their care
  5. Risk is regularly reassessed
  6. Hospitals monitor performance and strive to improve processes.

The framework is also available as a reference document for download

Clinical Focus Report

A detailed review of data from January 2012 to December 2013 was conducted to identify cases of DVT and PE occurring during hospitalisation in NSW public hospitals. Data sources included Severity Assessment Code (SAC) 1 Root Cause Analysis (RCA) reports, Incident Information Management System (IIMS) data, NSW Health Information Exchange data and Collaborating Hospitals Audit of Surgical Mortality (CHASM) report data.

Clinical Focus Report – Hospital Associated Venous Thromboembolism

Clinical Focus Report
Hospital-Associated Venous Thromboembolism

This report summarises findings from the data review and provides recommendations for health managers and clinicians to improve VTE prevention in NSW public hospitals.

Download PDF ~697KB

  1. Access Economics. The burden of venous thromboembolism in Australia: Report by Access Economics Pty Limited for The Australia and New Zealand Working Party on the Management and Prevention of Venous Thromboembolism, May 2008. Accessed 1 April 2014 at