NHS 'failure' to spot blood clots costing millions

Clot prevention
Image caption Wearing compression stockings can prevent clots in the legs, known as DVT, and lungs

Doctors failing to spot deadly blood clots have cost the NHS over £112m in legal claims since 2005, figures show.

The NHS Litigation Authority data reveals how much has been paid out to patients and their families as a result of medics failing to screen for or give treatments to prevent the condition.

Guidelines introduced early last year say all patients admitted to hospital should be screened for clot risk.

The charity Lifeblood says the figures should be a wake up call for hospitals.

It calculates unless more doctors follow best-practice guidelines, claims for the period 2005 to 2015 could exceed £250m.

Blood clots or venous thromboembolism (VTE) kill an estimated 25,000 people admitted to NHS wards in England every year.

But many of the deaths are avoidable with the right care.

However, an analysis of Department of Health data by Lifeblood shows just 30 of the UK's 159 Hospital Trusts in England are meeting the mandatory goal to risk-assess 90% of patients admitted to hospital.

This could mean as many as 4.5m patients are missing out on potentially life-saving assessments, says Lifeblood.

The charity's medical director, Professor Beverley Hunt, warned: "The NHS has some excellent new thrombosis prevention guidelines in place but if hospitals don't take urgent action to meet these mandatory prevention goals, then patients will increasingly turn to the courts for compensation."

NHS medical director Sir Bruce Keogh said: "We are committed to doing something about this issue, to reduce the suffering of thousands of people and to save many lives.

"This is not complicated. I expect organisations to assess every patient for their individual risk of getting a blood clot, and then to provide the appropriate prevention.

"Not only would this more than pay for itself; it is clearly the right thing to do."

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