Background: Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is associated with a substantial healthcare and economic burden, yet many VTE events are preventable. Despite the availability of evidence-based guidelines detailing effective thromboprophylaxis strategies, the underuse and inappropriate prescribing of VTE prophylaxis are common. Current national quality initiatives were reviewed to identify strategies that may help hospitals and health care professionals optimize current VTE prophylaxis practices.; Methods: A computerized literature search was performed using PubMed and MEDLINE, and this was complemented by hand searches of relevant journals and Web sites to identify additional literature related to VTE prevention and quality improvement.; Findings: Many organizations, including the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the National Quality Forum, the Joint Commission, and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality have developed performance measures, quality indicators, public reporting initiatives, incentive programs and "negative reimbursement" that are designed to help improve VTE prevention.; Conclusions: It remains the responsibility of individual hospitals to identify specific areas in which they can improve their VTE prophylaxis rates to obtain positive results from the reporting initiatives and incentive programs if performance measures are to be met, all hospital departments will need to implement effective VTE prevention policies, including early risk assessment, appropriate prophylaxis prescribing, monitoring, and follow-up. Multifaceted, integrated initiatives involving risk assessment tools, decision support, electronic alert systems, and hospitalwide education, with a mechanism for audit and feedback, may help ensure that all health care professionals comply with VTE prevention policies and initiatives.