Detecting blood clots in A&E can ‘cut deaths

A study says suspected deep vein thrombosis (DVT) – blood clots that usually develops in the legs and can be fatal – accounts for 1% to 2% of all emergency department visits.

Long A&E waits have been linked to more deaths, higher healthcare costs and staff burnout.

A team recruited 11 medics from Tampere University Hospital and Kuopio University Hospital in Finland to examine the records of 93 patients who visited the hospitals’ emergency departments with suspected DVT from 2017 to 2019.

The patients were seen by doctors who were able to carry out point-of-care ultrasounds (Pocus), which can be done in multiple settings rather than waiting to be referred to see a radiologist.

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The results were compared with those of 135 patients who had arrived in the same emergency departments with suspected DVT on the same days but were sent for ultrasounds in imaging departments. Those in the Pocus group waited an average of 2.34 hours in A&E compared with 4.51 hours in the group who received standard exams.

Study lead Dr Ossi Hannula said: “The results are convincing. Crowding in emergency departments is an increasing threat to patient safety and staff wellbeing.

“Using point-of-care ultrasound is one way of tackling this threat by reducing an unnecessary delay in decision making.”

Figures released by the NHS last week revealed A&E wait times got longer last month. Some 28,859 people had to wait more than 12 hours in emergency departments in England from a decision to admit to being admitted, up 21% on July.

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Patients waiting at least four hours from the decision to admit to admission also increased by 10%, from July to 120,120 in August.

Dr Hannula said: “The longer a patient stays in an emergency department, the higher the death rates and risks of complications. The longer their stay in a ward, the lower the patient satisfaction and higher the financial costs and burden on emergency staff.”

The findings will be presented at the European Emergency Medicine Congress in Barcelona today.

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