In many cases pressure ulcers are due to clinical negligence where patients in hospitals and care facilities develop bed pressure sores because of lack of care and neglect.
Pressure sores are completely avoidable. If you believe that you or someone you know has been the victim of sub standard care and neglected whilst staying in a hospital, nursing home or in residential care, then please contact us today and speak directly to one of our specialist solicitors as you may be entitled to claim compensation for clinical negligence.
What causes pressure ulcers?
Bed pressure ulcers are more commonly found on the bony parts of the body such as the head, back, elbows heels and ankles.
The reason this is the case is that these areas are the points at which the skin is under the most pressure from the body weight of the individual.
The bone presses against the affected area which stops vital proteins and nutrients gaining access to it.
In time and if left untreated the area of skin will die. The less tissue between the skin and bone the more probable sores will develop.
Pressure by itself is not the only cause of bedsores. Some patients can develop sores from the friction between skin and bed sheets, which in turn damages the tissue making it more susceptible to pressure damage.
Pressure bedsores or ulcers are more frequently suffered by elderly patients who are bedridden for long periods of time.
In some cases individuals will find the moving of skin on skin will also cause bed sores in much the same way as skin on sheets can be the cause of the injury.
Stages of pressure ulcers
It is estimated that well over 400,000 NHS patients suffer from bed ulcers annually. The severity of the condition can vary and it is generally acknowledged there are four stages.
The first stage generally appears as redness or dulling of the skin which when pressed does not return the usual colour of the skin as quickly as it normally should.
In the second stage blisters begin to appear, which is followed by the third stage where skin is lost as it is worn away.
Once the fourth and most severe stage has started there will be full skin and tissue loss to a point where bone is able to be seen.
Preventing pressure sores
The prevention of pressure sores is far easier than trying to treat them. In order to prevent the onset of the stages detailed earlier, preventative methods should be put in place at the earliest opportunity.
We recommend that to prevent pressure ulcers from developing a patient should alter their laying position on a regular basis to allow good blood flow and distribute the areas of weight evenly across the body.
If the patient is unable to do so themselves, the nurse carer or helper should ensure this is done as part of their ‘duty of care’ whilst the patient is under their care. If the carer fails to do this it constitutes neglect and clinical negligence.
In addition, to ensuring the patient is regularly re-positioned it is essential the patient is not malnourished as it is critical that the skin is not left vulnerable.
Warning signs of pressure ulcers
It is important to check the body for the early signs of pressure ulcers. The first signs usually linked to ulcers are marks on the body which, when pressed, do not return to their normal colour as quickly as they ought to.
Upon examining for signs of pressure ulcers, vulnerable areas such as the head, neck, back, elbows, heels and ankles should be given particular attention, as they are the areas of the body which lack natural padding and are therefore susceptible to forming sores.
Preventing unnecessary friction should be avoided. Using pillows placed under the patients legs can reduce weight on the heels decreasing the chance of bedsores. This can also be done to keep ankles and knees from rubbing. Also specialised mattresses can be made available. If you have suffered from pressure ulcers and these simple procedures were not carried out then it could be a case of negligence.
Why do so many people suffer from bedsores if they are preventable?
Due to under staffing, mismanagement and medical negligence in the NHS and other care facilities unfortunately bedsores are still a major issue today.
Thankfully there has been a recent study that has produced a ‘care bundle’ in an attempt to combat the problem of patients suffering unnecessarily.
It has been shown that pro active procedures carried out by carers and hospital staff will significantly reduce the numbers of people suffering with pressure ulcers.
A system of regular and systematic checks, the provision of good nutrition, handling incontinence effectively and the continual re-positioning of patients is hoped will not only ease the pain and suffering of patients but greatly reduce treatment cost and the onus of paying out damages when people make claims for compensation.
We are fully aware that people who have or are suffering with bedsores have probably been bedridden for a considerable length of time due to another injury or ailment and the last thing they are thinking about is how to claim for compensation.
They may even mistakenly think that enduring the agony of having bed sores is just a by-product of the healing process from the original condition that left them bedridden.
As we have said, bed sores and pressure ulcers are wholly preventable and the people who are caring for you are being owe you a duty of care and are being paid to do so. You should not feel that you are a burden and that making a complaint regarding your ulcers is only adding to their workload.
Therefore if you feel that after reading this article that the care you received was below satisfactory levels and you have suffered unnecessarily because of someone else’s negligence please contact us today and get immediate and expert advice from one of our specialist solicitors.
As well as making a claim for the injuries you have suffered, compensation claims can be made for various other expenses such as loss of earnings, additional medical costs and the cost involved for further care.
If you have any questions and to get further information regarding the injuries you have suffered through the development of bed sores, pressure sores and pressure ulcers, you can call our experienced solicitors at Injury Claims Assistance for free advice, with no obligation to pursue a claim. They will be more than happy to answer any questions you have.