Pressure Sore Claims

Pressure sores (also called pressure ulcers and bed sores) are wounds that form when pressure applied to prominent bony areas of the body is not relieved for a prolonged period of time. The pressure disrupts blood flow to the skin which becomes deprived of oxygen and begins to break down. Without appropriate management and treatment pressure sores can cause complications such as pain, infection and amputation and, in the most extreme cases, death. If pressure sores develop or deteriorate as a result of nursing or care home staff negligence you may be able to claim compensation for the avoidable pain and suffering caused as a result.

Obese patients, diabetics, the elderly and those who are immobile for a prolonged period of time due to illness, disability or following surgery are particularly vulnerable to developing pressure sores. They most commonly develop on the hips, lower back, tailbone, heels, ankles and elbows. They may occur in hospitals and in care homes.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has issued guidance on the prevention and treatment of pressure sores. The guidelines state that it is crucial that patients with reduced mobility, or those who are going to have a period of reduced mobility, undergo an assessment of their risk of developing pressure sores. A Waterlow assessment is used by nurses/carers to assess whether a patient is likely to develop a pressure sore. Risk factors include age, dehydration, poor nutrition, weight loss, anaemia, persistent infection, urinary/faecal incontinence and poor circulation. It is important to regularly reassess a patient’s risk of developing pressure sores, particularly if there is a change in their mobility or condition.

Pressure sores can be prevented or controlled where good care is provided to hospital patients and care home residents. Good care in this context means checking vulnerable areas for pressure sore development, repositioning immobile patients on a regular basis, using special equipment to relieve pressure on vulnerable parts of the body, managing diet and nutrition, and managing the pressure sore by keeping the area clean and applying an appropriate dressing.

Pressure sores may occur even if a patient has received an appropriate standard of care. However, once identified, appropriate management and treatment should mean that the pressure sore does not develop or cause significant complications.

Pressure sores are graded in terms of their severity. Grade 1 is the least severe and is characterised by skin discolouration. Grade 4 is the most severe and is associated with severe skin damage and necrosis potentially impacting the underlying muscle or bone. In the most serious cases the patient may require debridement of dead tissue from the wound, skin grafts or cosmetic surgery. In these cases patients are at risk of developing a life threatening infection such as sepsis or gangrene. In some cases the affected area may need to be amputated. Recovery can take a long time and management of the wound may require input from district nurses, tissue viability nurses and plastic surgeons.

The specialist medical negligence solicitors at Curtis Law Solicitors have experience of helping clients who have developed a pressure sore as a result of nursing or care home negligence to recover financial compensation for the injuries that they have suffered. The most common areas of negligence include:

  • Failure to carry out a Waterlow assessment accurately or at all
  • Failure to implement a pressure relieving regime
  • Failure to follow a planned pressure relieving regime
  • Failure to diagnose a pressure sore
  • Failure to appropriately treat a pressure sore
  • Failure to refer a patient for specialist tissue viability/plastic surgery assessment and treatment

If you wish to discuss a potential clinical negligence claim with our specialist solicitors you can email us, use our online enquiry form, or call us for free on 0800 008 7450.