Compression Stockings Often Incorrectly Used

29% of patients had problems with size of devices used to prevent deep vein clots, study finds

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 20, 2008 (HealthDay News) -- Compression stockings are used incorrectly in 29 percent of patients and sized incorrectly in 26 percent of patients, according to U.S. researchers.

They said their findings highlight the importance of nurse and patient education about correct use of the stockings, which help prevent the formation of deep vein clots that can cause pulmonary complications and death.

The study included 119 women and 23 men recovering in a hospital after surgery. Thirty-seven patients had thigh-length stockings, and 105 had knee-length stockings.

Problems with use and size of stockings were more common with thigh-length stockings and in overweight patients. Thigh-length stockings were more likely be uncomfortable than knee-length stockings. Twenty percent of patients didn't understand the stockings' purpose, and this lack of understanding may be a factor in patients wearing them incorrectly, the researchers said.

The findings were published in the September issue of the American Journal of Nursing.

Compression stockings are meant to promote blood flow and reduce the risk of venous thrombosis, a blood clot that forms in the vein. Many studies have shown that compression stockings, used alone or in combination with other external compression devices or medications, significantly reduce the rate of deep vein thrombosis following surgery.

"Problems with the use of sizing of graduated compression stockings are common throughout the country, and this study is one of the first to systematically analyze the problems and recommend ways to improve practice," study lead author Elizabeth H. Winslow, a research consultant at Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas, said in a journal news release.

"Based on the study findings, we recommend that knee-length stockings be the standard length used and that the education of nurses and patients about the proper use of stockings be improved," she said.

More information

The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more about deep vein thrombosis.

SOURCE: American Journal of Nursing, news release, Aug. 20, 2008
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