A year-long study funded by the Patient-Centred Outcomes Research Institute suggests that a well-designed online education programme decreases nonadministration of necessary blood thinners, which in turn decreases the likelihood of lethal blood clots in hospitals.
The research was spurred by a documented need to boost administration of prescribed heparin and other blood thinners to prevent venous thromboembolism, and data showing that patients' refusal of the drugs frequently resulted in nurses' not giving them.
A report summarizing the study, published in PLOS ONE, on August 16, provides evidence that the online education was successful in giving nurses tools to communicate the serious need for the drugs to patients and improve rates of use.
"We teach in hopes of improving patient care, but there's actually very little evidence that online professional education can have a measurable impact. Our results show that it does," says Elliott Haut, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor and Vice Chair of Quality, Safety & Service, Department of Surgery, at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the paper's senior author.
Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is a blood clot that starts in a vein (often in a limb) and affects 350,000 to 600,000 people in the United States each year. More than 100,000 people die from VTE annually, when a clot breaks off and travels to the lung-;a total that is more than the number of lives taken by breast cancer, AIDS and motor vehicle collisions combined.