Quicker action on blood clots would save lives
Thousands of lives could be saved if blood clots in lungs and legs were diagnosed and treated more quickly, it has been claimed.
According to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) many hospitals are waiting too long to carry out tests for blood clots and this is endangering lives.
Some 56,000 people in England were affected by blood clots in the legs or lungs during 2011 so it is a significant issue. However, NICE believes that the actual number is much higher because doctors often fail to spot the symptoms.
The body is calling on health professionals to offer full tests within 24 hours of a potential problem being raised by a patient.
Blood clots in legs can lead to long-term pain, swelling and even full-time disability. However, if they dislodge and get into the lungs the problem is far worse as they can lead to death.
Indeed, more than 17,000 people in England and Wales died as a direct result of blood clots on the lungs during the year of 2007.
People in hospital, in particular, are susceptible to blood clots because they spend lengthy periods of time in bed and do not get the movement needed to get the circulation flowing properly.
NICE also believes that more regular checks of blood clots in the lungs will also increase the survival rate of people suffering with lung cancer because the disease may be spotted earlier.
Professor Gerard Stansby, chairman of the guideline development group, said: "The NHS should be offering a seven-day-a-week service.
"It's not acceptable any more for people to have to wait over the weekend to get these tests in hospital."
Beverley Hunt, medical director of the charity Lifeblood added: "This is a major advance in improving the quality of care patients receive. It sets a clear standard of care."