Full Length Article| Volume 223, P95-101, March 2023

Right needle, right patient, right time? A national flash-mob audit of thromboprophylaxis in palliative care



      The prevention of hospital associated thrombosis in palliative care remains controversial yet many countries recommend the documented risk assessment and where appropriate pharmacological prophylaxis of inpatients with advanced cancer.


      To audit adherence to national guidelines which require hospitalised patients to be risk assessed and receive appropriate thromboprophylaxis.


      A one day “flash-mob” audit across multiple clinical inpatient sites across the United Kingdom.


      Inpatients receiving palliative care within hospitals, hospices and specialist palliative care units across the United Kingdom.


      Data were collected from 1125 patients (514 hospital and 611 hospice/specialist palliative care units). Appropriate thromboprophylaxis was observed in 90 % of hospital and 90 % hospice/specialist palliative care units. Documented risk assessment was only found in 79 % and 71 % of patient notes respectively. Pharmacological thromboprophylaxis was contraindicated in 88 % of hospice/specialist palliative care unit patients due to bleeding risk or receiving end-of-life care. Twenty-four percent of patients in hospital had contraindications due to receiving end of life care, bleeding risk and thrombocytopenia. Patients in hospice/specialist palliative care units were of poorer performance status prior to admission with a history of gradual deterioration. Hospitalised patients were more likely to have been admitted following an acute deterioration of previous good performance status.


      Thromboprophylaxis guidelines were followed correctly for the majority of patients. There were considerable differences in the demographics of patients according to place of admission. Patients admitted to hospice/specialist palliative care units were sicker and had more contraindications to prophylaxis than those admitted to hospital. Thromboprophylaxis focused research data conducted in hospices is unlikely to be applicable to the care of palliative care patients admitted acutely to hospital.


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