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A blog considering how pressure sores occur and why they should be prevented.
A pressure sore is a type of ulcer that can develop on parts of your body, most usually your heel, elbows, buttocks and the base of your back. They can affect patients who have low mobility and can be difficult to treat but they are preventable with appropriate care as demonstrated recently by a hospital in Northamptonshire.
The development of a pressure sore can occur while in hospital but also at home if a person remains stationary for a prolonged period of time. The most vulnerable are those with low mobility so it is important that patients are given the appropriate care before a pressure sore can develop. If the appropriate care is not provided and a pressure sore develops, it can lead to a medical negligence claim for compensation.
Pressure sores are also known as pressure ulcers and beds sores. They can occur when blood flow and oxygen is restricted to pressure points on the body resulting in damage to the skin and underlying tissue. A pressure sore can become progressively worse and can leave a patient with a gaping wound which needs to be treated carefully, sometimes even requiring surgery, in order to heal. This is obviously incredibly distressing for the patient as it will be painful and treatment can be problematic. It is therefore important to take every necessary step to avoid them.
The Clinical Negligence Team has acted for many clients that have developed pressure sores due to medical negligence in hospital or while under the care of district nurses at their home. We recognise the distress that pressure sores can cause and are in support of promoting better training and treatment in the hope that they can be avoided. The evidence we are given is that with appropriate risk assessments and prompt preventative measures, which every patient is entitled to expect, they are avoidable.
In one such case, our client underwent surgery on his brain. The operation was a success but he was unable to mobilise for some time after his surgery as he required time to recover. After his surgery his wife noticed a very large sore area on his groin area and raised this with the nurses on the ward. A large pressure sore was identified and during the rest of his hospital stay he required the use of a special air mattress and a cushion. He required subsequent treatment which including daily dressings and visits from district nurses. He was prescribed strong painkillers to cope with the pain but he has been left with a visible scar.
This pressure sore was easily preventable had he been consistently moved and turned by the nursing staff after his surgery in order to spread the pressure applied to different areas of his body. This technique was not utilised and as a result our client endured a period of extended pain and suffering.
When the right training is provided and the correct treatment given, hospitals can achieve high levels of success in preventing pressure sores. One such example of sustained success is that of Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust who reported recently that they have remained pressure sore free for over 365 days in one of their hospitals – St Mary’s Hospital, Kettering. This was achieved by a number of wards within the hospital and is credited to the correct training, better detection techniques and timely assessment.
We hope that more hospitals can achieve this fantastic level of success, which is achievable with appropriate standards. However, if you or a family member is unfortunate enough to require hospital treatment, The Clinical Negligence Team encourage you to seek advice on mobilisation. If you or a member of your family have developed a pressure sore and believe that it occurred as a result of poor medical treatment, please contact The Clinical Negligence Team, and we would be happy to advise you.