The development of blood clots is one of the risks after surgery. This may occur because you spend more time in bed recovering after surgery and not moving around as much as you usually do during the course of the day. Some people are more prone to developing blood clots than others due to family medical histories or other types of situations. We do not want blood clots to develop because they can move to different parts of the body, such as the legs or lungs, which can cause major health issues.
What we do to reduce your risk of blood clots
Your healthcare team provides a number of safeguards against developing blood clots. These activities occur before, during and after hospitalization. Here are a few common actions you will experience:
- Attend a pre-operative teaching class
- Before surgery, a detailed history and physical will be obtained to assess if you are at a higher risk for blood clots than the usual patient having your type of procedure. If you are more at risk, a plan to manage the higher risk will be developed before your surgery for your care during hospitalization and at discharge.
- You may be prescribed a medication known as a blood thinner or anti-coagulant.
- Special leg wraps and support stockings that promote blood flow are applied and worn in the operating room, in the recovery room, and during your postoperative phase.
- A device will be applied to your legs that will inflate and deflate around your calf to massage your legs and keep blood moving.
- The staff will encourage you to move frequently. They will help you get out of bed and walk around. They will also help you change position while you are in bed.
- You may be taught special leg exercises to do while you are in bed.
- At discharge, a plan to address this issue will be developed if needed.
- NEBH conducts research to further advance our practice to best protect our patients from this complication.
What you can do to reduce your risk of blood clots
- Report to your surgeon if you have ever had a blood clot, especially in your legs or lungs.
- Stop smoking. Studies have shown that patients who smoke have a higher incidence of blood clots.
- While you are recovering after surgery in bed, do the leg exercises that you were taught, such as flexing and extending your feet. If you are unsure if you should be doing these exercises, please ask your nurse. Change your position while in bed regularly, even if it is a little.
- Drink fluids during your hospitalization, when able.
- Be an active and willing participant when exercising and getting out of bed.
- Report immediately to the staff if you are having pain in your legs or are having difficulty breathing. It may not indicate a problem, but the professional staff can help determine that for sure.
- Review your discharge materials and know your discharge plan of care. If you have any questions, ask your nurse before you leave the hospital.