CDC honors UW Health for blood clot prevention

The CDC is pointing to UW Health as a key example of how to prevent blood clots.

That’s after the health system was one of the eight hospitals or health systems named a “prevention champion” in a CDC challenge. Between 2008 and 2010, UW Health’s efforts to reduce patients’ blood clots saved about $500,000 in unnecessary costs and reduced inpatient stays by 128 days.

“It was a really great honor,” said Anne Rose, who supervised the anticoagulation stewardship program. “We worked really hard to implement this program. It was nice to see that recognition for something that was a whole system overhaul.”

The issue, CDC Director Thomas Frieden said, is a “serious and growing public health problem.” The agency is looking to cut down on blood clots known as venous thromboembolisms, which cause 100,000 premature deaths each year and can cost as much as $10 billion.

“These challenge winners saved lives by implementing innovative VTE prevention strategies in their institutions,” Frieden said. “We can all learn from their ideas and work together to protect patients from developing deadly blood clots.”

About half of those blood clots happen after someone’s been hospitalized or has gotten surgery, which is why UW Health re-evaluated its prevention methods in 2009. Previously, Rose said, its doctors didn’t systematically look at which patients were at most risk for blood clots.

But now, doctors and nurses work together on “blood clot risk assessments,” ensuring patients get treatments such as blood thinners if they’re high-risk.

“We did a very coordinated effort between all disciplines and we standardized our approach,” she said.

See the announcement