CDC honors UCI Health for preventing blood clots in hospitalized patients

One of eight U.S. health systems recognized for innovative, lifesaving efforts

April 26, 2016

UCI Health is one of eight U.S. hospitals and health systems recently honored by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for implementing innovative strategies and lifesaving procedures to prevent hospitalized patients from developing blood clots.

UCI Health collaborated with the four other UC academic medical centers, located in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and Davis, to find ways to reduce the risk of healthcare-associated venous thromboemboli or VTE, which are blood clots that form deep in the body, the lungs, or both.

The collaborative “Stop the Clot” project was funded by the UC Center for Health and Quality Innovation, and was recognized by the CDC as a Healthcare-Associated Venous Thromboembolism (HA-VTE) Prevention Champion. This collaboration is an example of a proactive approach by the UC system to keep hospitalized patients safe. The federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has stated that preventing VTE is the No. 1 strategy to improve safety for hospital patients. 

The CDC estimates that 900,000 VTE events occur in the US each year, resulting in as many as 100,000 premature deaths. About half of all incidences of VTE are related to hospitalization or surgery.

“We are committed to providing the best care possible to our patients and blood clots are a leading cause of preventable deaths that are often overlooked,” said Dr. Alpesh Amin, professor and chair, Department of Medicine, UC Irvine School of Medicine; executive director, UCI Health Hospital Medicine (Hospitalist) Program; and the VTE project’s principal investigator for UCI Health Principal and co-investigator for UC Center for Health and Quality Innovation.

“In 2011, leaders from the five UC medical centers launched a comprehensive, multi-year plan to reduce healthcare-associated VTE across the system in a sustained and measureable fashion, and we are proud to be recognized for this multi-institutional team effort,” Amin said.

Amin said the challenge to providing optimal prevention included the absence of a standard approach to assessing VTE risk; lack of consensus on appropriate prevention options for various inpatient populations; decentralized electronic health records from multiple vendors, and inadequate measures to track the preventions hospitals used and the corresponding result on VTE outcomes.

The UC medical centers reduced VTE risk by applying several effective evidence-based strategies, including:

  • Teaching patients and families at risk for HA-VTE about the importance of prevention.
  • Educational programs for patients and families, especially those being treated for cancer or scheduled for surgery;
  • Active surveillance to monitor prevention measures and correct lapses;
  • Hard-wiring VTE risk assessment at critical times, such as at admission, prior to transfer and during the period before and after surgery;
  • Allowing for flexibility in meeting the special needs of patients, while minimizing needless variation.

“These challenge winners saved lives by implementing innovative VTE prevention strategies in their institutions,” said CDC Director Thomas Frieden, MD, MPH. “We can all learn from their ideas and work together to protect patients from developing deadly blood clots.”

UCI Health comprises the clinical, medical education and research enterprises of the University of California, Irvine. Patients can access UCI Health at physician offices throughout Orange County and at its main campus, UC Irvine Medical Center in Orange, Calif., a 411-bed acute care hospital that provides tertiary and quaternary care, ambulatory and specialty medical clinics, and behavioral health and rehabilitation services. U.S. News & World Report has listed it among America’s Best Hospitals for 15 consecutive years. UC Irvine Medical Center is home to Orange County’s only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center, high-risk perinatal/neonatal program, Level I trauma center and Level II pediatric trauma center, and it is the primary teaching hospital for the UC Irvine School of Medicine. UCI Health serves a region of more than 3 million people in Orange County, western Riverside County and southeast Los Angeles County. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

About the University of California, Irvine: Currently celebrating its 50th anniversary, UCI is the youngest member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 30,000 students and offers 192 degree programs. It’s located in one of the world’s safest and most economically vibrant communities and is Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $4.8 billion annually to the local economy. For more on UCI, visit