Blood Clot Prevention: Leg Sleeves and Stockings
Your doctor has ordered special sleeves or stockings for you to wear on your legs to help stop blood clots from forming in your legs while you are in the hospital. The sleeves are called Sequential Compression Device (SCD) system and the stockings are Thrombo Embolic Deterrent hose (TED® hose). These sleeves and stockings help keep pressure on the legs to help stop blood from clotting.
Along with the SCDs or TED hose, your doctor may order other methods to prevent blood clots. These may include taking medications to thin your blood, doing ankle-pumping exercises, getting out of bed and walking around, or going to physical therapy. Any or all of these may help to stop blood clots.
You may be at higher risk for forming blood clots for many reasons. These may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- You are not walking as much as usual when you are in the hospital.
- You have had surgery.
- Your age.
- You are overweight.
- Certain medical problems.
The sleeves wrap snugly around the lower legs and should be loose enough to place two fingers between the sleeves and your leg. You should not feel any numbness or tingling while the sleeves are on your legs. If you feel numbness or tingling, please notify your nurse right away.
These sleeves are plugged into hoses with an electric motor. The motor will pump air into the sleeves and will massage your legs, sending the blood back to your heart. If the sleeves are turned off or taken off, you are not protected from forming blood clots.
Your sleeves are to be removed about every eight hours for your bath and blood-flow checks, or as needed for your condition. If your sleeves are off more than an hour at one time, please call your nurse to put the sleeves back on. When getting out of bed or walking, it is important for your safety to remove the sleeves from your legs and put on slippers or shoes to help prevent a slip or fall. When you return to bed, the sleeves should be placed back around your legs. The sleeves should also be on when you are sitting in a chair.
When you go home, you will not take the SCDs home with you. The sleeves are thrown away and our staff cleans the motor.
Your doctor may order stockings in knee-high or thigh-high length. Your nurse will measure your leg to obtain the correct size stockings. These stockings fit tight to your legs. You should not feel any numbness or tingling while the stockings are on your legs. If you feel numbness or tingling, please call your nurse right away.
The stockings work only if they are on your legs. Your stockings are to be taken off for bathing and blood-flow checks about every eight hours, or as needed for your health. Once your legs and feet have dried after your bath, the stockings may be put back on. If your stockings are off more than an hour at one time, please call your nurse to put the stockings back on your legs. When getting out of bed or walking, please use slippers or shoes over the stockings to help avoid a slip or fall.
When you go home, these stockings may be taken with you. The stockings may be hand washed with a mild soap and hung to dry, or may be washed in a washing machine in cold or warm water and dried in the dryer for 15 to 20 minutes. The stockings may be put back on once dried.
SCDs and TED hose work only if you wear them!