Clots. A word many have heard of, but I wonder how many understand the effect this five-letter word has on the health and wellbeing of our population. The answer according to the Ask about Clots campaign launched last week: not enough!
As a final-year medical student approaching the start of a career within the NHS, I attended the launch of Ask about Clots with the realisation that in a little over four months, this topic would well and truly be hitting me square in the face. Despite years of lectures, tutorials, and clinical attachments, I was taken aback by the facts:
“1250 people in Wales are at risk of death annually from blood clots”
“You are 1000 times more likely to suffer a DVT in hospital than on an aeroplane”
“70% of deaths from blood clots are preventable”
And if the facts weren’t staggering enough, the 45-minute launch event at The Senedd in Cardiff Bay was a reflection of the real efforts being made to further educate both doctors and patients on the effects of clots on the health of the population.
A very poignant opening was made by Dr Alan Willson, Director of 1000 Lives Improvement, who reiterated that clots touch many people’s lives. This statement was supported by Michelle Martin, who bravely shared her own story on the importance of asking about clots.
Michelle’s daughter Claire died from a pulmonary embolism in 2010, a harrowing story that Michelle believes could have been prevented had she asked more about clots and forced the issue to be checked at the time.
As Sponsor of the campaign, Mark Drakeford, AM, Minister for Health and Social Services, cleverly emphasised the hopes he had for the future of this campaign; firstly to prevent and avoid clots, but to also ensure that patients’ voices are heard loud and clear on all healthcare-related issues.
As supported by guest speaker, Roy Noble OBE, the business of asking is foreign to many people. Mr Noble admitted himself that during times of family illness, he regrets not “rattling a few cages” and not asking enough questions!
As guests dispersed feeling motivated and empowered, I managed to get a photo (as recommended by the campaign’s organisers!) with the ‘giant blood clot’ that was in attendance at the event.
Despite being a light-hearted gesture, the publicity gained by the numerous tweets, retweets, and hashtagging throughout the event really emphasised the drive and determination of the campaign to make a difference.
So, what have I taken away? Firstly, I’m going to Ask about Clots! And secondly, I’m going to be prepared for patients who Ask about Clots, too. I’m going to be ready to work with patients to assess their risks and take the right steps to prevent them together.
Find out more about the campaign at www.askaboutclots.co.uk.