Bulletins

​ Preventing pressure sores and making a claim

December 09, 2016

Whilst the advice will vary depending on your personal circumstances, there are some common techniques of preventing pressure sores, such as:

  • Changing position. Pressure sores can develop when either a large amount of pressure is applied to an area of skin over a short period of time; or, when less pressure is applied over a longer period of time. Therefore, regularly changing position can help evenly distribute the pressure being placed on various areas of your body.

  • Diet. A healthy, balanced diet that contains a good variety of vitamins, minerals an adequate amount of protein can help prevent skin damage and speed up the healing process.

  • Checking your skin. If you have an underlying condition, such as diabetes or nerve damage, it is particularly important that you check your skin on a daily basis for any signs of pressure sores, such as areas of skin that have become discoloured.

When you are admitted to a nursing home or a hospital, a risk assessment should be carried out to determine how likely you are to develop a pressure sore. This assessment takes into account your age, mobility and health. If you are considered at risk of developing pressure sores, then a care plan should be drawn up to include how often you need to be moved and how best to avoid putting pressure on the more vulnerable areas of skin. If pressure sores have already begun to develop, the extent of the risk assessment will be adjusted accordingly, for example, if the skin has broken, they will need to take photos to allow them to compare the ulcers over time to ensure that the treatment is working. Unfortunately, this does not always happen, meaning that the correct level of care is not provided and the pressure sores begin to develop, when they could have easily been avoided.

Case example

In A v Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust (2012) the claimant was admitted to hospital for treatment of a bladder infection. She suffered from multiple sclerosis and was a wheelchair user. During the first three days of her stay the claimant was left in bed fully clothed and, as a result, developed pressure sores on her ankles. The claimant was then transferred to another ward. They used a hoist to move her from the bed to her wheelchair and left the hoist underneath her whilst she was in the wheelchair. As a result of this, the strap on the hoist created friction and the claimant developed a pressure sore on her leg. It was found that, despite carrying out an initial risk assessment and being deemed to be a high risk for developing pressure sores, no further assessments had been carried out during the claimants stay and there was no evidence that any preventative measures had been taken. Had the staff followed the NICE guidelines for the prevention of pressure sores, the sores would not have developed and the claimant would not have required plastic surgery and been left with a 29 inch scar on her thigh.

The treatment you will receive will vary depending on what grade your pressure sore has reached. The severity of the sores are graded between 1 and 4, with 1 being a pink area with no broken skin and 4 being an open wound surrounded by dead skin. Treating grade 1 sores is relatively straightforward, however, grade 4 sores require extensive treatment which can often be quite painful. Those who have grade 4 pressure sores are at high risk of developing a life-threatening infection, such as blood poisoning, which is why it is very important to get it treated as soon as possible.

At Metcalfes, our team of experienced medical negligence solicitors are here to sensitively help guide you through any potential claims you may have. We deal with all areas of medical negligence including pressure sore issues. If you think that you or a loved one has suffered as a result of medical negligence, we may be able to help.

Please contact us on 0117 239 8012.  Alternatively, you can email us by using our online contact form and we will be happy to discuss your potential claim with you.

Further reading:

NHS Choices:

http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pressure-ulcers/pages/introduction.aspx

Alzheimer’s society:

https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/site/scripts/documents_info.php?documentID=132

Nice Guidelines:

https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg179

Website content note: This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

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​  Preventing pressure sores and making a claim

Gillian Clark

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