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Hospital patients will be checked for potentially-deadly clots

Photo: Move to cut deadly hospital clot risk
Hospital patients will be checked more closely for their susceptibility to potentially-deadly clots as part of heightened health standards.

Australia's hospital patients are more than 25 times more likely to develop potentially-deadly blood clots than economy-class air travellers.

And while lots of people wear compression stockings to minimise the risk of deep-vein thrombosis, few give much thought to a condition which is killing thousands of people a year.

"Most people have heard of 'economy-class syndrome' ... we really should be calling it 'hospital syndrome'," professor Amanda Walker said.

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, for which Prof Walker is clinical director, is on Thursday releasing new care standards for hospitals and medical professionals to reduce the toll of clots.
The commission, a federal government agency, estimates some 5000 lives are lost each year to venous thromboembolism in the legs or lungs, at a cost of $1.7 billion to the Australian health system.

And the hospital threat is not just for surgical patients, Prof Walker said.

"There are lots of different (causes): some of it is being unwell; some of it is lying down; medical conditions can thicken blood.

"And the risk doesn't end when you leave hospital, it extends for up to three months after the visit."

The new standard requires a patient risk assessment of clots and pending the outcome, a treatment plan including blood thinners.

The measures are the result of input by leading clinical experts and consumers and takes into account similar international standards.

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