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New Blood Clot Service Well Under Way

MEDIA RELEASE 15 June 2004

New Blood Clot Service Well Under Way At North Shore Hospital

A new North Shore Hospital service for people diagnosed with blood clots has been described as ‘worth its weight in gold’ by Northcote resident Mr Sid Hawkins.

The Thrombosis and Anticoagulation Service educates, monitors and supports patients diagnosed with Deep Vein Thrombosis (a clot in the leg) or Pulmonary Embolism (a clot in the lung).

Mr Hawkins was referred to the service late last month after experiencing chest pain caused by a pulmonary embolism.

During a two-day car trip from Wellington to Auckland the 55-year-old had dismissed the discomfort he felt in his lower leg, but it is likely this is where the clot started before travelling to his lungs.

“I didn’t muck around once I had the chest pains – especially at my age. I lead a pretty active life so the diagnosis was disappointing and quite a shock ,” Mr Hawkins says.

Once diagnosed, Mr Hawkins was visited in hospital by Haematology Clinical Nurse Specialist Sarah Hyder as part of the Thrombosis and Anticoagulation Service.

“Having her come and see me to explain what I had was really beneficial because I hadn’t had it before and I didn’t realise the significance of DVT and pulmonary embolism,” he says.

While some clots can be caused by factors such as pregnancy, recent surgery and long periods of immobility, others have no readily identifiable cause.

Alongside Sarah Hyder, Consultant Haematologists Dr Ross Henderson and Dr David Simpson complete the clinical team for the new service which started on March 25th. More… More than 65 patients have been referred to date and while it was expected the service would see 200 patients in the first year, that figure has now been revised to 450.

Ms Hyder says that once a hospitalised patient has been referred to the service by a doctor or nurse she immediately makes contact with the person and liaises with their GP.

“I spend time with the patient explaining what their diagnosis means, discussing the medication and showing them how to administer it, and I contact their GP to check they’re happy for me to manage the initial phase of treatment which usually lasts five to seven days.” Patients are treated with anticoagulant medication to dissolve their clot and slow the body’s clotting mechanism so others do not occur.

The length of time a patient remains on treatment will depend on whether their clot is above or below the knee and whether they have had other clots in the past.

During the initial visit patients also receive an information pack and Mr Hawkins says the brochures and leaflets left him feeling fully briefed about his condition.

“I could read about DVT and PE in my own time, the information was quite clear and I knew Sarah was there if I had any questions – from a patient’s point of view it really gave me confidence,” he says.

The information the service provides aligns with the advice patients receive from their hospital and community pharmacist.

Ms Hyder says another key aim of the service is to help patients who are stable and clinically well to make a speedier return home.

“Previously patients would spend a week in a hospital bed while they received anticoagulant treatment and had daily blood tests to get them stabilised – the new service facilitates these things happening at home where possible.”

Patients stable enough to return home receive a personalised management plan and daily monitoring and contact via telephone. More… Consultant Haematologist Dr Simpson says the service collects relevant information about a patient’s treatment so auditing can occur to ensure the highest standards of care.

“Having one service see all patients with blood clots is also especially useful for research and we are planning to participate in several international studies,” Dr Simpson says.

Pending ethics approval, North Shore Hospital will take part in the Aspire Trial with Auckland and Middlemore Hospitals from mid year.

The study will look at patients who have had one incident of DVT for which no cause could be found and will trial aspirin as a way of preventing further clots.


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