Anytime your skin is cut, your body initiates its clotting mechanism automatically. This is a deadly risk following any kind of surgery. Even minor surgeries. Fifteen years ago, when my father died 48 hours after receiving a stent, I contacted two coroners in two different states who both told me the same thing. According to these coroners, over 50% of patients having day surgeries die within 3 weeks of surgery due to post surgical blood clots. I was appalled by this revelation. Even more shocking was the fact that the surgeons, hospitals and medical community knew about this. Instead of doing something to save the patients at the time, their response was to create day surgeries to get the patients discharged as quickly as possible. If they can get the patient out the door alive, their subsequent deaths do not count against the doctor, hospital or their insurance premiums. The surgeons were not lifting a finger to address the problem of post surgery deaths or strokes from blood clots.
The older the patient, the higher the risk due to narrower arteries which were easily blocked by clots. Increased dehydration made the blood stickier and more prone to clotting. Cigarette smoking makes the blood more prone to clotting and reduces oxygen to the cells. All of these things increase your risk of dying from a post surgical blood clot.
In my own case, I decided I would rather bleed than clot. Unless you are gushing copious amounts of blood, bleeding can be dealt with, but clots are deadly. So when my surgeons were not willing to take action, I took an enteric coated baby aspirin as soon as I woke up in post op recovery and daily thereafter. I waited until after the surgery so there would not be any increased bleeding issues but as soon as I was in recovery, I took the aspirin to prevent clotting. I also let my doctors know I was doing this. I’m not recommending this for anyone else. I am simply describing the measures I used to protect myself. I also have a friend who is a surgical nurse who confirmed everything I have described about the post surgical blood clots. My friend also takes the same steps to protect himself after surgery and he also has the same motto; he’d rather bleed than clot.
Two years later, my former spouses father was having a double knee replacement surgery. Knowing what we did about post surgical blood clots, we begged and pleaded him to take measures to protect himself from post surgical blood clots. If he would not help himself, we begged him to at least talk to his doctor about clots. He was a stubborn old man and wouldn’t even bother to ask his doctor about it. He was convinced his doctor knew what he was doing and he was leaving all the decisions in his doctors hands and had no intention of asking his doctor about anything. He flat refused to even ask the doctor about clots. We begged him to reconsider until we were blue in the face… to no avail. He had the surgery and died 24 hours later from a blood clot. My spouse was in an angry rage at his fathers needless, preventable death.
I am glad to say that a lot more doctors are now making efforts to ensure that their patients have the proper medicine to prevent the development blood clots. I now hear more and more people telling me that their doctors are taking measures to give them medicine in post op to prevent the formation of clots. More people are now willing to question their doctors about this issue before surgery. So it is a lot better than it was 15 years ago… but not completely. There are still surgeons out there who are more interested in their fees than whether their patients will die from post surgical blood clots.
You must be proactive in your health care. If you plan to have any type of surgical procedure, including stents, etc., you need to ask your surgeon what he plans to do to prevent you from forming post surgical blood clots. If he plans to do nothing, I would run like hell from that surgeon and find another. Seek as many different surgeons as necessary to find one who does care enough to ensure your welfare. However, do not tell the new surgeon about the previous surgeon. They are a good ole boys clique and will stick together and will not speak against another surgeon. So if you go to another surgeon, do not mention the previous surgeon. Start fresh with the new one. If he doesn’t plan to do anything about clots… find another until you find one who cares about your post surgical recovery enough to take measures to prevent clots. Go to another town if you have to.
Call the coroner and ask them about post surgical blood clots. If you do nothing to protect yourself against post surgical clots, the coroner will be the next medical professional who sees you after your surgery.
Here are your options if your surgeon does not plan to prevent formation of post surgical clots:
- Do nothing and take your chances of dying from a post surgical blood clot
- Find another surgeon who will take measures to prevent clots
- Take your own measures to ensure you do not form clots.
- Write on your hospital surgical authorization that you require post op clot prevention medication
- initial and date your statement requiring clot prevention meds to be administered in recovery
- Demand the meds in recovery
- Talk to the doctor
- Bring your own measures in case your requests are ignored
- however, make sure you were not already given thinners after your surgery
My 82 year old aunt had surgery last year and I was quite concerned about her welfare. I was quite relieved to find her doctor was addressing the clotting issue and was ordering the medicine to be administered in recovery and appropriate follow-up medicines to ensure she did not form clots over the next 3 to 6 weeks. I made sure my aunt remembered to ask the doctor again on the day of the surgery and to double check with the recovery nurses to ensure that the medicines were not forgotten. It is always possible for a doctor to forget if he becomes distracted. I drove my aunt nuts about this issue… but I’m happy to say she survived.
When I was in the hospital ICU 6 months ago for a week, I was surprised that they were administering blood thinners to ensure I did not form clots from being bedridden. I was impressed that they were addressing the issue so proactively. Usually, it takes multiple law suits to get hospitals and doctors to respond so proactively. But I was delighted to see them doing this. However, that does not mean these issues are addressed by all doctors and hospitals. It is up to you to ensure your needs are being addressed.
This is also an issue for your pets having surgery. Especially elderly pets, so be sure to address this issue with the vets. I had adamantly warned my late spouse not to take the elderly dog to the vet for surgery to remove nonmalignant skin growths… but he would not listen and the dog died just a few hours after surgery from post surgical blood clots.
Post surgical blood clots are one of the major causes of deaths of humans and pets which goes completely unreported without any warnings or statistics. Doctors are much better now than they were 15 years ago… but not all of them.
You must be proactive in your health care if you wish to survive.
As always, if you have major medical or health issues, seek the care and advice of a qualified medical professional. I am not a doctor and I can only tell you what works for me and my family. But I cannot advise your situation. Find a qualified doctor who is willing to address your needs.