SAN DIEGO (FRONTLINE MEDICAL NEWS) – Following simple institutional care guidelines helped clinicians identify pediatric patients at moderate-to-severe risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE), results from a single-center study showed.

“Hospital-acquired VTE is on the rise in the pediatric population,” lead study author Emily Southard, MD, said at the biennial summit of the Thrombosis & Hemostasis Societies of North America. “This consists of a DVT or [pulmonary embolism] 48 hours or more after admission, or any time at the site of a central venous catheter.”

One published study found a 70% increased incidence in the pediatric population from 2001-2007 ( Pediatrics 2009;124[4]:1001-8 ). More than half of the children in that study (63%) had at least one coexisting complex medical condition, with malignancy being the most common.

Hospital-acquired VTE cases tend to harbor a number of complications, said Dr. Southard, who is a pediatric hematology/oncology fellow at Children’s Hospital Colorado , Aurora. For example, 15%-20% of patients with a DVT will have a pulmonary embolism (PE) as well, 26% of patients with upper or lower extremity DVT develop post-thrombotic syndrome, and 3% of patients with PE develop chronic pulmonary hypertension.

“Medical costs are also impacted,” she said. “The cost for a hospital-acquired VTE in pediatrics increased the length of stay by about 8 days and increased the cost of hospital admission by more than $27,000.”

Known risk factors for VTE in this patient population include ICU admission (Odds Ratio, 2.14), presence of a central venous catheter (OR, 2.12), mechanical ventilation (OR, 1.56), and prolonged admission (OR, 1.03 for each day).

Risk factors in pediatric trauma patients include ICU admission (OR, 6.25), transfusion of blood products (OR, 2.1), lower extremity fracture (OR, 1.8), and neurosurgery (OR, 2.13). She and her associates hypothesized that understanding the relative contributions of clinical, biological, and genetic risk factors for pediatric VTE would help appropriately risk-stratify patients and allow better prophylactic approaches.

In 2012, Children’s Hospital Colorado implemented a VTE risk assessment tool as part of a hospital-wide patient safety initiative. The assessment is triggered via an Epic Best Practice Advisory to complete in certain higher-risk patients, including ICU patients, hematology/oncology floor patients, any patients with a central line catheter, and those who are over age 12 and obese.

Clinicians also assess for risk factors such as significant infection, recent surgery, and personal or family history of thrombophilia. Next, they classify each patient’s risk of hospital-acquired VTE as high, moderate, or low risk.

In a pilot study, Dr. Southard and her associates set out to validate the accuracy of the institution’s VTE risk assessment tool since it was implemented in 2012. She presented findings from 215 hospital-acquired VTE cases in patients younger than age 18, compared with age-matched inpatient controls. Data from patients under 6 months of age is available after October 2016, coinciding with a change in definition of pediatric hospital-acquired VTE.

Most hospital-acquired VTE patients (77.2%) ranged in age from 1-17 years. The number of patients admitted for a trauma diagnosis was similar between VTE cases and controls (7.4% vs. 7.9%, respectively). However, compared with controls, a significantly greater number of VTE cases were immobile (41.8% vs. 10.3%, respectively), required ICU admission (86.4% vs. 26.5%), had a central venous catheter (80.4% vs. 10.9%), had a positive blood culture (16.7% vs. 1.9%), required surgery or a medical procedure (57.7% vs. 36.7%), and had a longer procedure time (a mean of 151 vs. 133 minutes).

The researchers also found that upon initial admission, 7.9% of VTE cases were identified as high risk and another 21.9% were identified as moderate risk, compared with 1.2% and 3.7% in the controls, respectively.

“Patients identified as moderate or high risk for VTE were generally more medically complex patients,” Dr. Southard said.

Future directions of this project include expanding the patient population that has a risk assessment performed.

Dr. Southard reported having no financial disclosures.

SOURCE: Southard E et al. THSNA 2018 .