Scenario 15: Heparin Induced Thrombocytopenia (HIT)

A 64-year man is recovering from a transurethral resection of the prostate for treatment of benign prostate hyperplasia. The patient is receiving intravenous antibiotics for the urinary tract infection that was found on the preoperative urine culture and sensitivity (C & S). The post-operative course has been smooth and the APRN is removing the 3-way Foley catheter when there is a sudden release of bright red blood with many blood clots in the Foley bag. The patient becomes hypotensive, tachycardic and the APRN notes new ecchymoses on the patient’s arms and legs. The patient was immediately transferred to the surgical intensive care unit (SICU) and a stat hematology consult was conducted. Stat CBC, d-dimer, peripheral blood smear, partial thromboplastin time, Prothrombin time/international normalization ratio (INR), and fibrinogen labs were drawn. Results were:

CBC with markedly decreased platelet count, peripheral blood smear showed decreased number of platelets and presence of large platelets and fragmented red cells (schistocytes), prothrombin time prolonged as was the partial thromboplastin time. The d-dimer was markedly elevated, and fibrinogen level was low. The diagnosis of disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) was made based on clinical picture and laboratory data.

Question 1 of 2:

What is DIC and how does it develop?

Question 2 of 2:

What factors contribute to the development of DIC?