Background: Venous thromboembolism (VTE), which encompasses both deep-vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism, is a significant healthcare problem, leading to considerable morbidity, mortality and resource utilisation. Aims: This review discusses the adherence to VTE guideline recommendations and the available clinical evidence on the appropriate type, dose and duration of VTE prophylaxis. Methods: A literature survey was conducted using Pub Med and EMBASE to identify publications related to appropriate thromboprophylaxis in medically ill patients at risk of VTE. Results: Despite evidence from clinical trials and national guidelines, VTE prophylaxis in medically ill patients remains underutilised. The use of unfractionated heparin three-times-daily, low-molecular-weight heparin once-daily and fondaparinux once-daily has demonstrated effectiveness in clinical trials of medically ill patients. However, controversy exists about the use of unfractionated heparin twice-daily, and fondaparinux has not yet received US Food and Drug Administration approval for VTE prophylaxis in medically ill patients. Conclusion: It is important for clinicians to have an understanding of the evidence-based literature when selecting an appropriate drug, at the appropriate dose, for the appropriate duration for VTE prophylaxis in medically ill patients. VTE prophylaxis in medically ill patients is cost-effective, and drugs that are expensive may still be cost-effective when considering improved efficacy andor safety. Recently, the underutilisation of VTE prophylaxis has led to the involvement of government and other regulatory agencies in an attempt to increase appropriate VTE prophylaxis in US hospitals and improve the clinical and economic outcomes in medical patients at risk of VTE.
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