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Pressure sores can develop whilst you are a patient in a hospital or a patient in a care home if a patient is not kept properly clean, dry and positioned correctly on a bed. In addition, in a number of cases a patient will require proper mattresses to alleviate pressures created due to long term bed rest.
Pressure sores can be very debilitating and often require specialist treatment from a tissue viability nurse. They are more common in those who have chronic illnesses and in the elderly, particularly if they have problems with their circulation and mobility.
The Clinical Negligence Team have dealt with a number of cases in which pressure sores have developed when they need not have done, and have won compensation for clients in such cases.
A pressure sore is a type of ulcer on the outer skin which is caused by soft tissue damage, usually inflicted due to continuous pressure or damage to the blood supply of the tissues. This is usually in an area of skin where a bone is prominent, such as the area of the ankles, hips, or shoulder blades. We all of course subject our bodies to pressure for short periods of time, while we are sleeping at night. However, if you are a patient who is bedridden for a prolonged period of time, you are at a high risk of developing pressure sores and this risk needs to be appropriately managed so that the blood supply to the skin is not compromised.
Patients who are unable to change their position in bed naturally are even more at risk.
You may have a claim if you have developed a significant pressure sore which you consider to have been as a result of inadequate nursing care. It may be that you were not properly risk assessed for the development of pressure sores, or that your skin was not regularly inspected in order to ensure that pressure sores were not developing.
Patients at risk should be placed on pressure mattresses and repositioned frequently in order to avoid the development of a sore. If a pressure sore does develop it is important that it is treated quickly and effectively. It may be that there was poor handling of your pressure sore once it developed and this may have been as a result of negligent medical treatment.
If you consider that you may have a claim against the NHS or a private nursing home for the development of pressure sores, our specialist clinical negligence solicitors can fully advise you on the individual merits of your case.
In pressure sore claims, as with medical negligence claims generally, there are two different types of damages, general damages to compensate you for your pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life, and special damages to compensate you for specific financial losses, both in the past, present, and in the future. The level of compensation in pressure sore claims will be related to the extent of the pressure sore suffered, which is graded normally from 1 to 5 and the impact of this on the patient.
A pressure sore which is catastrophic can lead to the amputation of a limb, which would bring with it a very large amount of compensation. However, if only minor additional treatment is required, then the level of compensation will not be as high. It is important that each case is assessed on its own merits and our specialist team will be able to advise you accordingly.
The Clinical Negligence Team recovered £96,950 for a man who was suffering from multiple sclerosis. Unfortunately the Claimant had to be admitted to an Acute Assessment Ward suffering from pneumonia. He became very ill while on the ward and was not properly washed and no adequate steps were taken to mobilise him.
By the time he was discharged he developed a pressure sore on his left buttock the size of a fist. This sore required 18 months of intensive treatment before the effects resolved. This wound contributed to his rapid deterioration and he lost a lot of weight. He also suffered from a lot of general infections.
Naomi Todd, Associate in the Clinical Negligence Team, acted for Mr H in relation to his medical negligence claim for a pressure sore to his sacrum due to negligent nursing care.
Mr H was admitted to hospital for thoracic surgery. Following the operation there was a failure by the nursing staff to assess his risk of developing pressure sores and they also failed to regularly relieve his pressure areas to reduce the risk of pressure area damage, and failed to give him a special pressure relieving mattress.
As a result of the hospital’s failings Mr H developed a painful pressure sore on his sacrum. This prolonged his recovery time from the original operation and he was unable to mobilise and participate in physiotherapy due to the sores. Mr H suffered prolonged pain and suffering while the sore healed and he also suffered depression and attended counselling.
Mr H received compensation of £25,000 for his pain and suffering and the care he required from his wife.
Joachim Stanley recovered compensation for a female client who suffered from type 1 diabetes and peripheral neuropathy. When she was admitted to hospital for an operation, there was a failure to assess her accurately as a patient who was at high risk of developing pressure sores, as the risk is increased when a patient has diabetes.
The hospital also failed to provide a proper care plan for the prevention of pressure sores during her admission. Our client was sent home after her operation with a significant pressure sore, which became infected and she then had to be re-admitted to hospital some months later with osteomyelitis, the infection having spread to her bones.
Our client received compensation of £20,000 for her pain and suffering and associated financial losses.