Thankfully the standard of care homes in the UK is more than satisfactory, with the residents treated with care and respect, and claims for clinical negligence in care homes are uncommon
However since 2003 there have been well over 2000 deaths in care homes in the UK relating solely to dehydration and malnutrition. These statistics do not include a multitude of other cases of clinical negligence and carelessness.
There have been reported cases of some care homes falling below acceptable standards, and as a result the residents have suffered personal injury both mentally and physically, due to the negligence of the staff, managers, and owners.
Treatment for residents, who have suffered personal injury as a result of medical negligence, is often difficult and prolonged, as residents are often old and frail, and a minor injury or pain could be agony for them.
Types of clinical negligence in care homes
Bed pressure sores
Injuries caused by prolonged pressure being applied to the skin are called pressure ulcers, or bed pressure sores.
Bed pressure sores found in elderly bedridden patients are normally found around the heels, elbows, their back, and back of their heads, as well as any bony areas where there is pressure applied where they have been laying for long periods of time.
To prevent pressure ulcers suitable bedding is required and residents that are unable to turn on their own require routine turning to prevent ulcers from forming.
Pressure ulcers can become infected, and severely impede movement. Poor diet can also exasperate the injury and inhibit the healing process.
More information regarding bedsores and ulcers can be found here.
Trips and falls
Care homes need to ensure that hazards such as spillage, loose cables, or boxes or any other obstructions are clear of walkways and aisles.
When an elderly person trips, or falls it can have devastating consequences due to their weaker bone structure. Elderly people have slower reactions so when falling are unable to brace themselves for the fall which often results in serious injury.
Correct care should be undertaken when helping a resident into and out of wheelchairs and beds, emergency cords should be within easy reach, and regular visits should be part of staff work schedules.
Of course not every fall or trip will be the result of clinical negligence, as accidents happen however careful we are, but ensuring proper care is taken and following health & safety procedures at work will hopefully minimise the risks.
Medication and medical equipment
Administering the correct and right dosage of medication is vital for anyone taking medication, but with elderly patients in is even more important. An incorrect dosage given to and elderly patient with a weaker immune system, or the wrong medication can be disastrous.
As well as the administration of medication, the equipment in a care home needs to be fit for purpose. Beds, wheelchairs and mobility aids need to be in good and working order. If a patient suffers personal injury as a result of faulty equipment they would be entitled to claim compensation for clinical negligence.
General care given to residents
The general care given to residents in care homes is hoped to be of a good quality with staff and care providers passionate about ensuring the residents in the home have a good quality of life.
Regrettably this is not always the case as we have seen from the number of complaints, incidents, and compensation claims for people in care homes who have not been afforded a satisfactory level of care.
Poor Hygiene and Food
Acceptable food and drink are essential provisions for elderly people with weaker immune systems. Both the quality and preparation must be kept to satisfactory levels to avoid food poisoning and malnutrition if residents are simply not being given enough food.
Whilst we would like to think cases surrounded poor quality food and hygiene are isolated it was reported that since 2003, a staggering 2,162 deaths have been caused by malnutrition and dehydration in care homes
Abuse in care homes
Thankfully it is rare that workers in care homes abuse the residents.
However there have been reported incidents of abusive behaviour within care homes. If you or someone you know has been the victim of a physical attack, bullying, or mental torture then this would not necessarily be considered a case of medical negligence but instead would be a criminal matter for the police.
Care workers rarely enter their profession with the intent of abusing the people they care for. However there have been cases of abusive behaviour within care homes. This involves bullying, insulting and shouting at residents, attacking residents physically, and purposefully providing incorrect or insufficient care.
If you are at all unsure then please contact one of our expert clinical negligence solicitors who will be able to give you free advice and answer any questions you have.
Why Compensation should be claimed
Claiming compensation for an injury as a result of clinical negligence may be necessary to ensure the victim who may need further medical attention and equipment such as a wheelchair or powerchair to cope with the injuries sustained as a result of the negligent act.
Provisions may need to be made to help with even simple things such as eating, cleaning, and writing and general day-to-day care.
Claiming compensation for clinical negligence can also help with any loss of earnings for both the victim, and those family members that will need to provide support.
Claiming Compensation for family members and loved ones
As a family member or loved one you may find yourself in a position where you are required, or want to make a compensation claim on behalf of a family member or loved one.
These circumstances would normally occur when a child has been injured, the person injured does not have the power or desire to go through the claims process, or the injured person has died.
Contacting our clinical negligence solicitors is the next step to take. If they feel there is a claim for clinical negligence they will be able to handle your compensation claim on your behalf, so it is as stress free as possible.