7 WAYS TO PREVENT BLOOD CLOTS
Patients can protect themselves from blood clots by:
• Asking for VTE [deep vein thrombosis] risk assessment on admission to hospital.
• Asking for a ‘Blood Clot Alert Card’.
• Walking and moving as much as possible to keep blood flowing.
• Drinking plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.
• If directed to use stockings or medication, following instructions exactly.
• Remembering that a clot can form up to 90 days after being in hospital.
• Taking immediate action to seek medical help if any signs or symptoms present.
to hospital,” says Joan. “We immediately drove down there but it was too late, and I cannot describe the horror that unfolded when we were informed of his death.
“But the consultant explained that Niall developing a DVT [deep vein thrombosis] was such an extraordinary rare occurrence in such afitandhealthyyoung man that the need for the awareness was not highlighted to him.”
DVT can affect both the young and old and in recent weeks the HSE has launched a new awareness campaign to highlight the fact that 11,000 people are affected by blood clots every year in Ireland —and they are the biggest cause of preventable deaths. The campaign includes the distribution of patient alert cards. a national report and ‘toolkit’ to assist hospitals in preventing blood clots.
Ciara Kirke, HSE clinical lead for medication safety, says awareness of the dangers will help to save lives. “At least 60pc of blood clots happen during or after a hospital stay,” she says. “Up to 70pc of these may be preventable. The HSE has been making great strides — teams in 27 hospitals have improved blood clot prevention, resulting in 34,000 more patients getting the correct prevention per year.
“Over 100 healthcare professionals attended training and participated in improvement projects locally and the HSE has published a national report highlighting the huge amount of learning from this project, along with a toolkit and patient alert cards which are being distributed to hospitals to build on this success.”
While this is all positive news, it is cold comfort to Joan and Walter and their other children — Damian, Shane and Linda.
“We find it very hard to cope with and accept the circumstances of Niall’s death,” admits Joan. “His main ambition was to finish college and pursue a career in law, which we have no doubt he would have excelled at. Sadly, all of this was taken away from him by his untimely death and this has left a huge void in our lives and also for his wide circle of friends. No words can describe the traumatic effect of losing Niall — and this will continue for many years to come.”
On November 30, 2012, an inquest was held into Niall Comerford’s sudden death and the coroner recorded “acute cardiac arrest, pulmonary embolism resulting from a DVT in calf of his left leg following recent history of surgery”.
Niall’s grieving mother is sharing her story because she believes it is vital for people to be made aware of the fact that blood clots can affect patients of any age.
“We cannot change the past — we have lost our son and wish to God we hadn’t — but the future can be changed,” she says. “Consultation, information and the creation of awareness are the key factors in the prevention of deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism, which is the cause of so many unnecessary deaths.
“And if Niall did not fit the profile of being a candidate for a blood clot, then it is time that we stopped profiling patients and looked at everyone as a potential candidate for developing a DVT.
“The death of our son should be the example and reason for doing this. For some he might be just a statistic, but to us he was and always will be our son Niall.”