All hospital patients should be assessed for risk of developing potentially fatal blood clots, an expert working group has recommended.
The group believes that thousands of lives could be saved if hospitals assessed risk of venous thromboembolism as part of their admissions procedures.
The group was set up by the government in response to evidence showing that in England, around 25,000 people die each year from VTE - a set of complications, such as pulmonary embolism, that develop when clots in deep veins break off and become lodged elsewhere in the circulatory system.
Launching the report, chief medical officer Professor Sir Liam Donaldson said: 'VTE has been seen as a Cinderella issue for too long. This report enables clinicians to make the best choices for the patients and to ensure that we make real progress in saving thousands of lives every year.'
The report advises the Department of Health to draw up core standards to ensure 100 per cent compliance with the risk assessments. This should be monitored by the Healthcare Commission, it recommends. In addition, VTE demonstration centres should be established to provide information on best practice and develop an audit of local practice.
The working group will now develop a national risk assessment tool and assess how the new guidance can be implemented.