Pressure sores, also known as pressure ulcers or bed sores, are a type of skin injury that occur when someone stays in one position for an extended period of time. When you are unable to move around normally, certain parts of your body including your joints are put under large amounts of pressure. This pressure can lead to the skin gradually wearing away and eventually, breaking open, resulting in an open wound that can be very painful and difficult to treat. Prevention of pressure sores is very important, as is regular assessment of any developing pressure sores, as they are easier to treat before the skin breaks open than after. Once pressure sores occur, they can take a long time to heal. They’re also painful, and require a lot of care from health providers, which can be both uncomfortable and embarrassing for the patient.
Certain patients are at an increased risk of pressure sores. NICE and Healthcare Improvement Scotland both have guidelines on how to prevent and treat pressure sores and patients who are at a greater risk should be assessed and an appropriate prevention plan put in place. If at-risk patients are not identified, they are much more likely to develop pressure sores, which puts them at an increased risk of infection. When pressure sores are not treated appropriately patients undergo entirely unnecessary suffering.
Both NHS and private medical care providers are obliged to provide you with an appropriate level of care. If the care provided falls below the accepted standard and as a result, avoidable pressure sores develop, you may be entitled to claim compensation. When you’re ready, or if you’d like more information about making a claim, give Axiclaim a call.
Failure to prevent pressure sores
A huge number of patients are at risk of pressure sores, including those with the following complaints: those who are unable to move easily without help due to injury, illness or old age; significant weight loss which reduces padding over particularly bony areas; friction (rubbing of the skin); shearing (sliding down in a bed or chair, which pulls the skin in different directions, cutting off the blood supply); moist skin/dehydration; additional medical conditions such as diabetes; some medicines and a poor diet. These patients should be identified, and if found to be at a greater risk a plan should be put into place, which usually involves being turned and lifted regularly in order to alleviate pressure. The signs of pressure sores are also fairly obvious – before skin breaks open, it typically turns darker or a reddish/purple colour, a little bit like a bruise. Skin may feel warm or cool to the touch, or harder or softer than usual. If these signs are not picked up on, the condition of the skin can worsen causing to break open.
When a patient suffers from pressure sores, they are at greater risk of infection and this could subsequently increase the length of their hospital stay and also increases the chance that the patient will be re-hospitalised in the future due to secondary infections or complications.
Although compensation can’t make up for the failure to diagnose pressure sores before they develop, or failure to identify at-risk patients, it can help to pay for any immediate or future medical assistance that you might need.
Axiclaim’s team of specialist medical negligence solicitors can deal with your pressure sores claim in a sensitive, professional and timely manner.