£50,000 in damages recovered for pressure sores sustained in hospital

An investigation by a morning TV programme, Daybreak, found that during April – December 2012 18,000 patients developed pressure sores whilst in the care of a home or at a local NHS Trust. Pressure sores costs the NHS more than £2billion a year and that it can even be fatal.

Pressure sores, which are also called bed sores, are an injury which affects areas of the skin and are particularly suffered by elderly patients or those with circulatory disorders, such as diabetes.

Pressure sores occur when constant pressure is applied on the skin. The skin breaks down due to the lack of oxygen.

This morning, Daybreak highlighted that 95% of cases a year are avoidable as it requires nursing staff to ensure that the patient is kept clean, dry, and positioned properly. To prevent a pressure sore, nursing staff needs to move/reposition patients every hour or two depending on the patient.

As this injury is often avoidable, the development of a pressure sore whilst in hospital or nursing home care is suggestive of a poor standard of care, which will usually demonstrate negligence.

Wolferstans’ specialist team has a wealth of experience in bringing claims relating to medical negligence and pressure sores.

The Wolferstans’ team dealt with a case which started in September 2008, Mrs A was admitted to the Defendant Hospital for treatment of a bladder infection. This was her first admission to hospital as a wheelchair user.

The day after her admission Mrs A’s husband visited to find she was still fully clothed from the day before. Mrs A did not feel that the staff knew what to do with her and were unable to find the appropriate equipment to move her. As a result Mrs A remained in bed for three days during which time she developed pressure sores on her ankles.

Mrs A was then transferred to another ward where staff on this occasion moved her from her bed to a wheelchair using a hoist. However, due to the staff being concerned that they would be unable to get the hoist sling back on if they removed it from underneath her they left it there whilst she was sat in the wheelchair.

Mrs A subsequently developed a pressure sore on her leg, caused by the webbing strap on the sling.

Following discharge two days later, Mrs A required daily dressing of the sores by district nurses and was unable to wear shoes for the eight months during which it took the pressure sores to heal on her ankles.

Mrs A also required plastic surgery on her thigh but despite this has been left with a 29 inch scar.

Mrs A subsequently pursued a complaint with the Health Service Ombudsman, a body who consider complaints that the NHS in England have not acted properly or fairly or have provided a poor service. They advised Mrs A that there were many failings on the part of the Defendant Hospital which included failing to prepare a comprehensive mobility care plan specific to wheelchair users, failing to undertake preventative measures following a test which revealed Mrs A was at a high risk of developing a pressure sore and for failing to comply with the NICE guidance (guidelines which set the standards for high quality healthcare).

Wolferstans investigated this matter further and were able to agree a settlement for the client of £50,000 from the Defendant Hospital that they were in breach of their duty of care towards Mrs A and that as a result of this breach, Mrs A sustained pressure sores.

If you would like to have a free initial discussion, without any obligation, please contact Ann Ball on 01752 292347 or email her at aball@wolferstans.com

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