Introduction The prevention of pulmonary embolism (PE) is an important component of medical care.
Aim To examine the risk factors for venous thromboembolism in an Irish patient cohort with acute PE, and identify cases that may have been preventable.
Methods Retrospective review of 60 consecutive cases of computed tomography (CT)-confirmed acute PE.
Results The primary thromboembolic risk factors were elective surgery (27%), medical illness (20%), primary immobility (13%) and isolated distal lower limb fracture (7%). A significant proportion (43%) had been hospitalised within the six weeks prior to PE onset. Some patients had undergone 'low risk' procedures, without prophylaxis, but had other significant thromboembolic risk factors that indicated a requirement for prophylaxis.
Conclusions Hospital- and ward-based thromboprophylaxis guidelines, based on certain categories of patient or procedure, need to be routinely supplemented by an individual risk factor assessment for each patient, to determine those at particularly high risk for venous thromboembolism.