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Pressure Sores

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Pressure sores, also referred to as pressure ulcers or bed sores can develop quickly and be extremely painful.

They often take a very long time to heal and if not treated appropriately, could prove fatal. Statistics have shown that around 95% of pressure sores cases could have been avoided through appropriate levels of medical care.

Pressure sores are caused by unrelieved pressure that disrupts the blood circulation and starves the skin of oxygen and nutrients. When this happens the skin will break down and ulcers can form. Patients whose illness reduces their mobility are most at risk of developing sores, meaning that pressure sores can happen in hospitals, in care homes and also when receiving care in the community from District Nurses.

Where a patient is assessed as being at high risk of developing a pressure sore, preventative measurements should be put in place by the nursing staff so as to reduce the risk of a pressure sore developing ie, the use of pressure relieving mattresses, cushions and heel protectors. In addition, frequent re-positioning of the patient will reduce the risk of the skin breaking down due to prolonged pressure, together with ensuring any areas susceptible to pressure damage ie, the sacrum (bottom of spine) and heels are kept clean and dry.

Pressure sore claims can arise from the following failings in nursing care:-

• Failure to appropriately assess the patient’s risk of developing a pressure sore;
• Failure to implement pressure reducing/relieving surfaces to aid in the prevention of pressure sores;
• Failure to implement and record repositioning regimes;
• Failure to prepare and follow robust Care Plans;
• Failure to refer patient for specialist advice from a Tissue Viability Nurse once pressure damage has occurred;

If you believe your pressure sores/ulcers developed as a result of medical negligence, please contact a member of our specialist team.

Pressure Sores Due To Substandard Treatment - Case Study

The team acted for Mrs W in pursuing a claim against University Hospital of Leicester NHS Trust for substandard treatment she received when she was admitted to hospital with symptoms of a chest and urine infection.

Mrs W suffered with multiple sclerosis and was nursed at home on an air waive pressure relieving mattress due to being at high risk of developing pressure sores. When she was admitted to hospital a pressure sore risk assessment was carried out which identified her as being at “very high risk” of developing a pressure sore. Despite this, no pressure relieving mattress was supplied nor were any preventative measures put in place.

Mrs W developed a Grave IV pressure sore on her right buttock which measured 12 inches. Mrs W required surgical debridement of her pressure sore which was then followed by Vac Pump therapy. The pressure sore took over a year to heal.

The claim was pursued on the basis that had Mrs W been supplied with a pressure relieving mattress and preventative measurements put in place when she was admitted to hospital she would have avoided developing the pressure sore.

The claim settled for a five figure sum.